#RecipeShed – Keema Aloo (Mince curry with potatos)

Many years ago, my wife (then we were but boyfriend and girlfriend) took me on a trip to Bradford.  We went to the IMAX theatre and saw a couple of movies then went for a curry in what is, for me, the finest curry house in the land: The Kashmir.  You walk past the posh seating area at street level, round the corner onto a side street, down some stairs into the basement.  Formica tables.  Tin plates.  Very plain, very functional and always very busy for a very good reason:  The food is excellent.  We vowed to repeat the trip.

In there, on the next visit, I had my first keema curry.  Rather than lumps of meat, keema dishes are made from mince.  Whenever I get the chance, I go back there for a keema madras, usually tying it in with a visit to what was then the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television and is now a branch of the Science Museum.  Well worth a visit if you get the chance.  2 Daleks, Morph, the Wombles and much, much more.

Anyway.  Fast forward a few years and I’m on a cookery course.  What do we want to cook next week?  I suggest a keema dish, the teacher agrees. I’ve got to say, it’s a dish that starts out very unpromising in looks and then pulls it all out of the bag near the end.  Here you go.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb lean lamb mince (best if you can make it yourself by taking a good slab of shoulder and trimming away as much of the fat as possible).
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (or paprika if you’re dialling down the heat)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic & ginger paste (equal quantities of garlic and ginger, blitz together in a food processor and add a little vegetable oil.  Keeps for ages so make it up in big batches. You’ll be amazed at how useful it is)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Large bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. In a large pan, put the mince, onions, salt, red chilli powder (or paprika), turmeric, cinnamon stick, black cardamom and a large glass of water.
  2. Bring to the boil.  Break up the mince with a wooden spoon to make sure there are no lumps.
  3. Put on the lid, simmer for half an hour.  Stir after 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid, allow the water to evaporate completely.
  5. Add the tomatoes and a half-ladle of vegetable oil.  Start to fry the mince, adding the chillies (if you’re  using them) and the garlic & ginger paste (for some reason my hands want to type “garlic & finger paste”.  Don’t use that.  That would be wrong).  Fry for 15-20 minutes.  Add a little water if it all starts to stick.
  6. Add the potatoes and keep frying gently for 10 minutes.
  7. Put on the lid, reduce heat to minimum and allow the potatoes to cook.  Usually another 10-20 minutes.
  8. Just before serving, sprinkle over the garam masala and the coriander, stir and remove from the heat.  Serve at once with fresh naans or chapatti.
Until you start the frying at step 5, this dish is plain ugly.  One thing I was told on the course I did:  If you’re cooking a meat curry, you want the onion to be invisible.  If you’re cooking a vegetable curry, cut it generous as you want to see it as an ingredient.  So, the finer you chop the onion, the better – I was given a couple of Kyocera ceramic knives for my birthday this year – I now know what finely chopped looks like.  I also know that if the knife is sharp enough you don’t know you’ve cut yourself until the blood is already staining the chopping board.  These knives show no mercy.  They are truly amazing things.
Now.  Head over to the Recipe Shed and see what amazing things others are doing with mince this week.  And if you know of any other good keema recipes, please send them my way.

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