Keema Matar (Ground Meat with Peas)

Preparation time: 35 Cooking time: 80 Medium Serves: 6


(adapted from "Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni) A savory and fragrant ground meat and pea dish. Serve over rice. Even better the next day.


  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (toasted)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs ground meat (e.g. lean beef)
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 3 T cashew butter (made from 4T ground roast pieces and 1 1/2 T walnut
  • or light vegetable oil)
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 c hot water


  1. to make cashew butter, process cashews in food processor: pulverize with pulse for about 1 minute, continue for 3 more minutes, scraping down every 30 seconds or until it achieves a fudge-like paste consistency. Add nut oil and process for 30 seconds.
  2. brown-fry onions in oil on medium-high heat until caramel brown and shrivelled (~25 min)
  3. during last two minutes of brown-frying add garlic and ginger
  4. add spices, bring to heat
  5. add meat, cook and crumble until pink is lost
  6. add salt, tomatoes, cashew butter, peas, and water - bring to boil. Simmer until the sauce is thickened (about 45 minutes, stir to keep from sticking/burning).
  7. check for salt and add garnish (garam masala and/or raw chopped vegetables) to taste

Leave out the red pepper and the garnish for the kids - nobody will miss it. Serve with rice (ideally basmati) and flatbread (ideally naan, we found some pre-made at the grocery store or you can make it).

The trick with brown-frying onions is to keep them moving over medium high heat (and don’t go light on the cooking oil). If you let them rest they’ll burn and make the dish taste bad. The advantage of doing it this way is they’re very sweet and the onions completely disappear into the sauce. I like the flavor enough that I bought an automatic stirring device to cut back on the labor. You can pre-make the onions in batches and freeze them for weekday dishes.


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