Have you ever been in a cooking rut? Sometimes I literally have no idea what to make for dinner even though I have a cookbook shelf overflowing with books and I read about food on the internet for 85% of my day.
Thankfully, I startedthis new podcastand my guests send me recipes to make that I would never think of making on my own. Case in point: this Keema Pau which was suggested to me bymy guest this week, Karan Soni, who you may know from theDeadpoolmovies or the showMiracle Workers. Karan and his partner Roshan came over for dinner and noticed theDishoomcookbook on my shelf and Karan lit up: he cooked his way through it during the pandemic and absolutely loved the food that he made. So when I asked him to send me a recipe for the pod, he referred me to page 109, which has the recipe for Keema Pau.
What is Keema Pau?
Well here’s our discussion if you’d like to hear us talk all about it:
Basically, here’s the gist: you sauté onions in oil, add fresh ginger and garlic, and then three teaspoons of freshly ground coriander seeds (I use a spice grinder).
Here’s where things get really wild: you add 1/2 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt, crank the heat up, and cook until the yogurt starts to separate. In my twenty years of cooking, I’ve never added dairy to heat and tried to get it to separate — the whole thing was thrilling. To that you add ground lamb, flour, and an herb paste that you make with spring onions, cilantro, mint, and green chili.
By the time this all cooked together for twenty minutes, I tasted and the flavor absolutely knocked me on to my butt. I’d never tasted anything like it: it had the sourness and tang from the yogurt, the meatiness and slight gaminess of the lamb, and then the herbaceousness from the mint, cilantro, and chilies. Visually, it wasn’t the most alluring thing I’d ever seen, and adding frozen peas didn’t really help, but the flavor was undeniable. Karan suggested buying frozen paratha from the Indian supermarket near my apartment which was a delight to just heat up directly in a cast iron skillet.
Indeed, if you take nothing else away from this post let it be this: frozen paratha are a brilliant thing to have in your freezer. They’d make a terrific base for scrambled eggs (Karan’s mom used to make hers with chilies and other aromatics and serve it over paratha for breakfast); I was even thumbing through the newTurkey and the Wolf cookbookand they serve one of their sandwiches on paratha.
And on the Side We Have
For a side, I made one of my favorite Indian dishes:Meera Sodha’s Cauliflower, Cashew, Pea, and Coconut Curry. (The pomegranate seeds were an added flourish.)
This food was so good, it didn’t matter that the power went out just as our dinner guests arrived!
Everyone was so busy chowing down, we barely noticed when the lights came back on. If that’s not the sign of a good dinner, I don’t know what is. Thanks, Karan, for teaching me about Keema Pau! It really packs a punch.
- 2inchpiece of fresh ginger
- 6 to 7clovesgarlic
- 2scallions or spring onions
- 1cupcilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2cupfresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 2wholegreen chilies plus an extra 1 tablespoon roughly choppedAs you'll hear in the podcast, Karan recommends the small, spicy green chilies you find in Indian groceries; if you can't find, use any small, spicy green chile
- 3tablespoonsvegetable oil
- 1onion, finely diced
- 3teaspoons地面和ianderBuy the seeds whole and grind them in your spice grinder or mortar and pestle
- 1/2cupfull-fat Greek yogurt
- 1poundground lamb
- 1 1/4teaspoonsfine sea salt
- 2bay leaves
- 1/3teaspoonplain flour
- 1/4cupfrozen peas
- 4frozen paratha, heated according to package directions
- Chopped red onion (for garnish)
- A few cilantro leaves
- 3 to 4 lime wedges
Start by grating the ginger and garlic with a microplane into a small bowl; set aside.
In a blender, blitz together the scallions, cilantro, mint, and tablespoon of chopped green chilies together to make a paste (you may need to add a splash of water to help it come together).
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. When hot, add the onion and sauté gently for five minutes, stirring regularly, without browning (I added a pinch of salt here; up to you). Add the grated ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Add the ground coriander and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
Crank up the heat and stir in the yogurt, sautéing for 3 minutes just until the yogurt starts to separate. Lower the heat back to medium, stir in the lamb, salt, bay leaves, and mix well. Sauté, stirring regularly, until the moisture starts to leave the meat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well.
Stir in the green paste, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the peas and the whole green chilies and simmer over the lowest possible heat for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the time is up, put the lid on, turn off the heat, and allow the keema to stand for ten minutes. This is a good time to taste and adjust for salt.
To serve, heat the paratha and scoop the keema into bowls, garnish with red onion and coriander. Serve with the paratha and lime wedges.