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Kheema Mattar| Spicy Ground Goat Meat or Lamb with Peas from India

Is it odd that some of my fondest childhood memories are nestled in a plateful of spicy ground meat with hot bread rather than some sweet confection?


Growing up my weekends would punctuated by late weekend brunches with Mum's Kheema and while Mum was busy preparing the kheema, Dad and I would get into out little jonquil colored Italian Fiat and drive down to our favorite pao-wala (bread man) who worked out of a little tin shack on the side of the street and pick up hot slabs of bread loaves (paos) sold by the dozen at which point these are known as ladis. Very Mumbai, this.

Oh yes! Those were amazing times and these memories will forever warm my soul. As Mum brought the Kheema to the dinner table here in the US, we served it with hot oven baked Naan.What a delight to have these come straight out of our oven and Dad says it rivals some of the finest he has eaten growing up. Now there's a compliment if there ever was one!

Any way not to my surprise, the conversation at  the dinner table drifted back to those wonderful slabs of hot paos so common in Mumbai. Of all the things from back home, pao is on my top ten list. Turns out, unlike bread here in the US that does so well in the freezer and therefore keeps for extended periods of time, pao turns into soggy loafs once you take them out of the freezer. So the question that comes to my mind is, what do they put in the bread here that makes it freezer friendly?

Hmmm....should we plead the fifth on this one ?

For now, I think we'll just have to stick with hot homemade Naan's, shamelessly slathered with butter along with Mum's delicious kheema with whole spices and herbs. The kheema is traditionally ground goat meat found at Pakistani halal stores here in the US (use lamb if you must) of fine quality and is stewed with onions and spices and it then sauteed till it is nearly dry and the ghee simmers to the surface.

So aromatic is dish and yet utterly simple that it has been a staple for generations - my grandfather, my Dad, myself and now my kids! You know something is special when it stands the test of time and turns into a family tradition.



Recipe for Kheema Mattar |  Spicy Ground Goat Meat or Lamb with Peas from India

Serves 4-6

Shopping list 2 lbs Ground goat meat (mutton) or lamb

1 cup diced goat liver (optional)

1 large + 1 small yellow onion

8 garlic cloves,

1 " fresh ginger root,

4 whole cardamom pods,

1" whole cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

1 green 'Thai' chilly

1/2 cup 'ghee'

1 cup frozen shelled peas

1 tsp turmeric powder

3/4 tsp red chilly powder

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tbs fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


Onions - Peel, discard ends and skin. Finely slice

Green chilly - Slit vertically and set aside

Garlic cloves - Peel and thinly slice

Ginger - Chop ginger root.

Ground meat - Place the meat in a large sieve and wash under running tap water


In a kadhai or a large heavy bottomed stainless steel pot, add the meat, onions, ginger, garlic, green chilly, whole spices - cardamon pods, cinnamon stick & whole cloves, salt, turmeric and 1-1/2 cups of water. Stir till the meat and other ingredients are covered with the water as far as possible.

Bring to boil on high heat and then cover with a lid. Reduce to medium heat and allow the meat to cook thoroughly for about 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Once meat is cooked the juices settle to bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the hot stove and set aside for a few minutes to cool.

Sieve out the juices into a clean bowl and return the meat and other ingredients back into the pan.

This is so we can begin sauteing the meat which is a critical step and responsible for all the wonderful flavor this dish has. The stock will be used throughout the sauteing process.

Add the ghee, turn the heat up to medium - high and begin sauteing the meat.As the meat begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, add 1/4 cup of stock at a time and continue to saute. 

Keep stirring the meat as it begins to release its fat and begins to turn a rich deep brown color. This should take about 20 minutes.

Add all or some of the remaining stock depending on how much gravy you would like - it should still be fairly dry (do not turn it into a soup).

Add the diced livers (optional), frozen peas and red chilly powder. Continue to saute on medium high heat for another 5-10 minutes until the liver and peas are cooked.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve with hot Naans, rotis or  whole wheat pita bread. It is of course delicious with paos or white sliced bread in a pinch.




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