Keema Matar- Ground Lamb & Peas With Spices

Growing up, I always saw that men in my family were better at cooking non vegetarian food than women.They took their time in selecting the meat pieces,cleaning it,sometimes even carving it and then cooking it with all the patience in the world.They followed their own invented recipes with absolutely no deviations or substitutes.Whatever was needed was needed even if that required going far off to fetch it at wee hours of morning or night. Though I have a family having few of the best women cooks ever but non-vegetarian cooking was a delight when my dad or grandfather were involved.

If you take a look at the top chefs of the world, you will appreciate that the area of professional cooking is excelled by men.I seldom ask myself why? Is it because they are better? or are they well versed with some special techniques? or are they more creative in kitchen?I don’t know.I was discussing this topic at length with my mom the other day and she pointed out that because they dont cook out of necessity.They cook for more for enjoyment and seldom do not care much about wastage or about the mess they create in the kitchen well beyond recognition.Well,maybe.I did not take the topic any further with her coz I already sensed few pointed arrows being darted at my father :)

I think a major point here is unless they are professionals, men will cook hardly once or twice a month at home.So frequency of cooking also plays a role in the patience that you give to the recipe and ingredients.That was exactly what I saw as a kid.Usually, Sundays were when my father used to prepare few of the mutton or chicken recipes after demand from family members.For him,time was not the concern, taste was. And trust me we have waited as late as 4 p.m. to be served lunch.Me and my siblings became sous chefs and the helper of the house was sent off to the market with a long list of ingredients.It was fun seeing the vividness with which food was cooked and discussed.

The ground lamb recipe that I m sharing in this post is my father’s way of cooking ground meat.’Keema‘ is hindi for any ground meat and ‘matar‘ is hindi for green peas.Originally, since goat meat/mutton is more popular in India,the recipe is always prepared with ground mutton back home.After a lot of experiments and testing [read tasting] I have found a lean variety of ground lamb which I usually use to make this dish.You can use ground beef or any other red meat variety to prepare this.The preparation is sort of indian chilli – ground lamb, spices, onions/garlic/ginger and some vegetable of choice.I sometimes add potatoes, taro root, turnips, beet roots and even small lamb pieces to the dish.The leftovers taste far better so make sure you prepare lots of it. Below goes the recipe:


1 lb ground lamb [or mutton or beef]
1 cup green peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup finely sliced onions
3 fat garlic cloves
1″ shoot of ginger
1-2 green chilli
6-7 whole black peppercorns
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
2-3 green cardamom, cracked open
1 small twig of mace
4 tbsp mustard/canola/olive oil [ adjust quantity if your ground meat is not lean]
Salt to taste

For “Yogurt spice paste” :

3 tsp dry coriander powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tbsp plain greek yogurt/thick curd

Utensils Required : [one of these]

Pressure cooker/ slow cooker/any heavy bottomed cooking pot with lid



If using frozen meat, thaw it overnight or let the refrigerated meat come to a room temperature.When cooking, your meat should be at room temperature.
Cook the peas for 5-7 minutes in salted boiling water.Take out and tip these into ice-cold water.This process called “blanching” will retain the color of peas.Drain after 5 minutes and set aside.
Mince garlic cloves, ginger shoot and green chillies coarsely using mortar & pestle.
Take a small piece of cheesecloth/muslin and wrap up all the whole spices [peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves,cardamom, mace twig] in it tightly to form a small dry spice pocket.This is how I use whole spices to avoid picking them while eating from the ground meat.
Make the smooth “yogurt spice paste” with all the listed ingredients.


In a cooking pot with lid, on high, heat up the oil till you see ripples on the surface and it smokes slightly.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions.Cook the onions till they turn light brown.About 5 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and ginger and saute for about 2 minutes on medium heat.
Next, add the ground lamb and yogurt spice paste to the pot and saute for about 8 minutes continuously stirring on medium heat.The meat will start sweating and becoming watery.Do not worry, everything is going as per plan.
Next, add 1/2 cup water,salt and the dry spice pocket to the pot.Turn the heat to high and let the mixture come together for about 5 minutes.
Next, turn the heat to the lowest possible on your burner, cover the pot with lid and let the contents simmer on low heat for about 25-30 minutes.You ll need to stir and check periodically to ensure that meat is not sticking to the bottom.Add more water if it is. TIP : Do not add too much water at the beginning because ground meat leaves moisture as it cooks.. Add water at intervals as per the consistency you want.At the end of 25 minutes of cooking you will see that oil separating from and change in color of the ground meat.
Remove the lid and add the blanched peas to the pot, check the salt and cook on high again for 5 minutes till everything comes together.
Take out the cheesecloth spice pocket and discard it.
Serve warm with flatbreads or rice.


This recipe can be used for ground turkey, chicken or any ground red meat mince. Adjust cooking times accordingly.
If using a pressure cooker cook on medium heat for 12-15 minutes and 3-4 whistles.
If the ground meat is not lean and has fat chunks in it, you will probably need to use lesser quantity of cooking oil than that noted in the recipe.
Use leftovers inside a bun to make indianized sloppy joes :)


Sending this to Hearth n Soul #39 & This week’s cravings#20

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