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Restaurant Style Keema Recipe

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This all-purpose keema recipe is delicious in its own right but also works as pre-cooked keema for curries.

If you like a good keema curry as much as I do, you simply have to try this keema recipe.

It is basic but there are a number of ways you can spice it up should you wish too. I use this keema recipe as a base for my restaurant style keema curries but it can be an amazing curry in its own right.

This is a recipe from my cookbooks ‘The Curry Guy’ and ‘The Curry Guy Bible’.

As no chillies or hot ground spices are used, it’s the perfect keema recipe for adding to keema curries or perhaps making up your own curry,

Try my chicken tikka masala, for example and substitute the keema for the chicken or make it a chicken tikka keema masala. The possibilities are endless.

keema recipe made with beef

You can make this keema recipe and serve it is or as a main ingredient in other curries.

Why pre-cook keema for restaurant style curries?

At Indian restaurants, the keema is usually prepared ahead of time. Just like the chicken and lamb tikka needs to be pre-cooked, keema benefits from pre-cooking.

In this recipe, whole spices are used for flavour. These are later removed so that when you make your curry house style keema, there aren’t any bits in it.

Although whole spices are loved in India, in the west, most people don’t like biting into a cardamom pod.

These as well as the other whole spices do add a nice flavour though.


If serving a keema as a main without adding it to another curry, I often use this recipe.

Make this keema recipe your own…

Although I used this simple keema recipe as a main ingredient in my restaurant style keema curries, it is a delicious and authentic curry just as it is.

You will notice that I don’t add any hot spices or chillies to the curry. This is so that I can use it in the mildest curries as well as spicier options.

If you want to make this keema recipe and serve it as is, that’s fine too! It is an authentic keema recipe. If I were to serve it like that, I would add chopped chillies to taste when I fry the onions.

I would also add some Kashmiri chilli powder to taste and perhaps fresh or frozen peas and depending on use, I might add more stock for a saucier keema.

Which meat?

In this keema recipe I used beef mince with a 80/20% meat to fat mix.

Most restaurant style keemas are made with lamb mince but you could also use chicken, turkey, venison… Whatever you like.

You could also use leaner meat. 80/20% meat to fat ratio is not important. 

Following are step by step photos of this keema recipe…

infusing whole spices in oil

Heat the oil and infuse the spices for about 30 seconds.

Adding chopped onions to the pan

stir in the chopped onion and fry until soft and translucent.

garlic and ginger paste added to pan

Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds.

adding tomato puree and ground spices to the pan

Stir in the ground spices and tomato puree.

adding meat to the pan

Now stir in the meat and some of the stock and break it down with your spatula.

Cooking keema

With the stock added, the keema will be quite moist. If using as a curry, keep it so. If not, cook it down.

reducing the liquid in the pan.

As it cooks, the moisture will cook down and your keema will become dryer.

Adding coriander (cilantro) and kasoori methi to the pan.

Add the coriander (cilantro) and kasoori methi. Also add salt to taste.

Finished keema recipe

All done! Remember, you can always add more stock or water for a saucier version.

finished keema recipe


If you like this keema recipe, you might like to try some of these authentic Indian favourites…

Railway lamb curry
Chicken lababdar
Chicken Karahi
Homemade poppadoms
Authentic chicken biryani

Yield: 4 - 6

Keema Recipe

finished keema recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or seasoned oil (see page 8)
  • 2 Indian bay leaves (cassia leaves)
  • 7.5cm (3in) piece of cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
  • 1⁄2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp mixed powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) minced lamb, beef or chicken
  • About 200ml (generous 3⁄4 cup) spice stock or water
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped coriander(cilantro)
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Heat the oil over a medium–high heat until small bubbles appear, then add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds and cardamom pods and mix them around in the oil.
  2. After about 30 seconds the oil will become fragrant and you will hear the spices begin to crackle. When this happens, toss in the onion and give it a good stir.
  3. Fry until soft and translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger paste and let it sizzle for another minute or so, then add the ground spices and tomato purée followed by the minced meat. You’ll know you’re doing something right because your kitchen will smell so good.
  5. Allow the minced meat to cook through then pour in the spice stock or water and simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes. You may need to add a little more water while the ingredients all get to know each other. The finished keema should be moist but not saucy, and if you’d like to cook it for longer for a more intense flavour, add more water accordingly to prevent it from drying out.
  6. Remove the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Stir in the dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi), coriander (cilantro) and season with salt. You’ll probably find it tastes great, so be careful not to snack on it before making your keema curry or using it in your samosas! I find this quite difficult at times.

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I hope you enjoy this keema recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.


Wednesday 18th of January 2023

just made this with lean Turkey leg mince, only 2% fat and although it tastes excellent I can imagine that higher fat content lamb mince would taste even better, no complaints though.

Dan Toombs

Monday 23rd of January 2023

Yes it probably is better with lamb but think of the calories saved! Thanks for letting me know. Dan


Saturday 13th of August 2022

This is inspiring me to use this recipe as part of an Indian spiced version of Shepard's pie. This as part of the base and curried mashed on top. I plan on using Impossible Meat as the protein. I find it browns up really well and is a credible ground beef substitute in highly spiced dishes.

Dan Toombs

Monday 15th of August 2022

Sounds good! Thanks Dan


Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

You can do this with soya mince too, just soak it with your ground spices beforehand. Better with lamb mince obviously but I passable substitute.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 4th of March 2021

Good idea, I might try that. Thanks Dan

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