When it comes to ground beef recipes, Keema Curry goes beyond burgers and makes mincemeat out of meatballs. Our take on this traditional Indian stew of beef, peas, and potatoes is fabulously flavorful thanks to fragrant spices, a splash of lime, and fresh cilantro. Creamy coconut milk keeps beef keema mild and kid-friendly. Pairs perfectly with any rice – including cauliflower!
If there’s one thing I like more than eating comfort food, it’s making, then eating, comfort food. Especially ones that I love, but used to forego if a seasoned professional wasn’t making them for me.
I crave comfort foods with flavor. Big, bold, slap-you-in-the-face flavor. And I have a whole lot of respect for chefs and cuisines that know how to properly balance traditional ingredients in such recipes. In my younger years, if I was craving curry or shawarma or bulgogi, I sought out the experts.
But when life gives you lemons in the form of a small child (i.e. the least desirable restaurant companions ever), you learn to make lemonade (i.e. homemade beef keema curry and homemade bulgogi and homemade shawarma).
My youngest (especially) has made restaurant dining a very special challenge, so I brought the experts home – cookbooks, videos, and definitely lots of spices – and learned to make the basics in my own kitchen.
Keema curry wasn’t my first foray into culinary cultural appreciation, but it’s probably my most prolific (we eat it constantly). So much so that I spun it into even more family favorites like coconut chicken curry, vegan cauliflower curry, and even curried cauliflower soup. I like to think I’ve taken what I’ve learned and perfected a few easy curry recipes that work for my family – simple ingredients, big flavor, adjustable heat – and hopefully yours too!
What Is Keema?
Keema is an Indian ground beef or lamb curry recipe simmered with peas, potatoes, tomatoes, coconut milk, and spices. “Keema” translates to minced meat (aka ground meat) and the traditional variations are prepared with either peas (keema matar) or potatoes (keema aloo) or in the case of this particular recipe, both.
If you’re intimidated by Indian cooking or curries, this is an excellent recipe to start with. This easy keema recipe is incredibly straightforward, super forgiving, relatively quick (about 30 minutes!), and the result is a restaurant-quality Indian curry recipe that you’ll be proud to share with anyone and everyone!
Where is Keema Curry From?
Keema is an Indian stew that follows standard preparation for most curry dishes, incorporating coconut milk and fragrant spices, and is served over rice. Though the term keema itself has Turkish origins, it’s “most popular in north India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, some believe that the dish has Persian origins.”
My best keema recipe is an adaptation of this recipe by Grace Parisi via Food and Wine. I first discovered it a decade ago on my toddler-induced mission to make as many restaurant-quality Indian recipes as possible at home. Over the years, I’ve updated and adapted it, and this beef keema recipe is the result of my personal tweaks.
I pre-roast the potatoes instead of simmering them in the sauce, which intensifies their sweetness. Fire roasted tomatoes and a dollop of tomato paste bring depth, while turmeric and garam masala really round out the flavor. The finished ground beef curry is spiced, but not hot spicy, with a rich and creamy finish.
Key Ingredients for Ground Beef Curry
- Ground Beef: I usually reach for a 15% fat ratio; you’ll have fat from the coconut milk so go higher if you like, but I wouldn’t go lower than 80/20.
- Fresh Ginger: not ground. Ginger paste is a great substitute if peeling and mincing fresh ginger isn’t your thing.
- Curry Powder: use the freshest, best quality you can afford. Pick a curry powder that suits your level of heat, and make sure it’s fresh. Commercial blends are often labeled “sweet” or “hot”. Madras curry powder (an all-around “basic” curry option that’s widely available) is always a safe bet, and is what we regularly use.
- Garam Masala: garam masala is a sweeter, warming spice and brings depth and balance to the curry.
- Turmeric Powder: turmeric has a bitter and earthy flavor that brings extra color to the finished dish.
- Fire Roasted Canned Tomatoes: we always reach for fire-roasted tomatoes in quickly cooked dishes like this ground beef curry. They’re a bit sweeter, add depth, and don’t need to be cooked down to develop flavor.
- Coconut Milk: use unsweetened, additive free coconut milk (from a can, not a carton). We prefer full-fat for best flavor, but you can use light if that’s your preference.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes: gold potatoes are sweet with a thin, edible skin that only improves with roasting. That being said, I’ve swapped them out for sweet potatoes and even butternut squash!
- Peas: frozen peas work best; canned peas will quickly lose flavor and color.
- Cilantro: finely chopped and stirred in after simmering.
- Lime Juice: for the perfect hint of acid just before serving.
How to Cook Keema Curry
Easy Keema Curry features ground beef seasoned with garlic, fresh ginger, curry, garam masala, and turmeric. Simmer with tomato paste, fire roasted tomatoes and coconut milk to build a bold, rich sauce. Stir in roasted potatoes, peas, and chopped cilantro at the end to create a hearty beef curry dish that’s the pinnacle of easy comfort food with complex flavor!
- Roast the potatoes. Dice small (about half an inch) and toss with olive oil. Roast in a 425°F oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.
- Brown the ground beef with onion in a dutch oven or large soup pot until the beef is no longer pink and the onion turns translucent. Use a wood spoon to break the beef into smaller pieces.
- Season with ginger and garlic and saute until very fragrant (just a minute or two).
- Add the spices and tomato paste, and work both into the beef mixture, cooking and stirring frequently until the tomato paste deepens in color.
- Stir in the canned tomatoes and coconut milk. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the curry has thickened.
- Stir in the frozen peas and roasted potatoes, then simmer 2-3 minutes more, or until the peas are warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped cilantro.
- Ladle into serving bowls over your base of choice (we like steamed rice or cauliflower rice). Ganish with lime juice and more fresh cilantro.
- Make sure your spices are fresh! Rub a bit of the spices between your fingers – they should very aromatic. If they don’t smell strong, they won’t taste strong.
- Test your potatoes – they should be fork-tender and golden brown when done roasting.
- After simmering, the curry should be a deep golden orange hue.
- Shake the canned coconut well before opening – coconut milk can settle and separate during storing, so give it a good shake to reincorporate and prevent a grainy pour.
What Goes with Ground Beef Curry?
A grain like rice is a classic base for keema curry:
- White rice, brown rice, and cauliflower rice all work well.
- Try saffron rice for an even more fragrant dish.
- Serve with chapati or naan bread for dipping.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of lime juice and more fresh cilantro.
- For a hot spicy finish, drizzle with sriracha.
Make it Your Way
- Swap the Yukon gold potatoes for sweet potatoes for added color, flavor and fiber.
- For a low(er) carb meal, serve with roasted cauliflower or over cauliflower rice.
- Feel free to use ground lamb in place of ground beef.
Storing and Reheating Keema Curry
Store leftovers in a sealed container up to 4 days in your refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in-between. You can also heat in a pot on the stove over a medium flame.
Did you make this keema curry? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Keema Curry Recipe (Ground Beef Curry)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large yukon gold potatoes (about 1 lb), diced into ½″ cubes
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion, diced to ½″
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 14-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 14-oz can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 c frozen baby peas
- 2 tbsp cilantro, plus additional for serving
- lime juice, to taste, for serving
- steamed rice, or naan, for serving
- Heat the oven to 425°F. Toss the potatoes with olive oil and spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until tender and golden brown.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook, stirring frequently to break up the beef into smaller pieces. Cook until the ground beef is no longer pink and the onion is translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic. Sautee, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant.
- Add the salt, pepper, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, and tomato paste. Stir until the the tomato paste is worked into the beef, and the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and give everything a good stir. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the curry thickens and the color turns a deep golden orange, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the frozen baby peas and roasted potatoes. Simmer until the peas are warmed through, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.
- Ladle into serving bowls over your base of choice (rice, naan or other, see post notes), sprinkle with lime juice and more fresh cilantro, and serve immediately.