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Chicken Keema Pav

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This keema pav recipe can be made with the meat of your choice.

Today I had some leftover minced (ground) chicken as I’ve been testing a lot of new seekh kebab recipes for a book I’m writing. This keema pav recipe was actually written with beef or lamb in mind but I decided to try it with chicken and the results was delicious. So if you’re trying to eat less red meat or you just like the idea of trying a good chicken keema, you’ll want to give this a try soon. That or just substitute your meat of choice and make this traditional keema pav recipe just as written.

You might also like to top your keema pavs with a good chutney. If you or someone you’re cooking for is on a gluten free diet, you can serve this chicken keema over Basmati white rice or a good flavoured rice. I like to serve it over dosas too.

Keema pav

What is keema pav?

Keema Pav is a popular street food dish that originated in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the region of Maharashtra, India. It consists of spicy minced meat (keema) cooked with a blend of aromatic spices, served with buttered and toasted pav buns.

You may already know that the word “keema” refers to minced meat, which can be made from various meats such as lamb, beef, or chicken. You typically cook the meat with a mix of onions, garlic, ginger, and a selection of ground spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chilli powder. This combination of spices gives the keema a flavourful and slightly spicy taste.

What is the history of keema pav?

it is believed that the concept of minced meat dishes came to India during the Mughal era. The Mughals, who ruled over parts of India from the 16th to the 18th centuries, introduced a variety of meat-based dishes that became an integral part of Indian cuisine. Keema, a popular preparation made by mincing meat, was one such culinary creation.

Over time, the concept of keema evolved, and regional variations emerged. In Maharashtra, keema found its way into the streets of Mumbai, where you will find it was transformed into the beloved street food known as Keema Pav.

The modern keema pav

The exact origin story of Keema Pav is difficult to trace, but it is believed to have gained popularity in the mid-20th century. Mumbai, being a melting pot of cultures and culinary influences, provided the perfect environment for the fusion of flavors and the creation of unique street food delicacies.

You will find keema pav easy to make

If you’ve ever prepared a bolognese sauce, then you will find keema pav just as easy to prepare. It’s really just a ground meat mixture with tomatoes and some spices.

Although slowly simmering it for hours like you would a bolognese will get you better results, you can prepare the keema for this keema pav recipe in less than 30 minutes.

How long can you store keema pav?

It’s best to toast the buns (pav) just before you serve the dish. That way they’ll be hot and buttery. You can prepare the keema up to  three days before serving. As it sits, covered in your fridge, the flavours will develop and it will actually get better.

Can you freeze the keema?

Yes. It’s best to do so before adding the yoghurt and then just defrost and add it later. That said, if you have some leftover keema and wish to freeze it, it freezes well for up to 6 months.

How do you reheat the keema?

If reheating from frozen, allow it to defrost completely. Then you could just heat it up in your microwave.

You can also heat up the keema in a saucepan but from my taste tests, you probably won’t taste any noticeable difference between heating in a microwave or saucepan.

How do you prepare this chicken keema pav recipe with other meats?

Just follow the recipe and add the minced (ground) meat of your choice. Although beef and lamb are popular options, any minced meat will do.

How do you prepare the buns (pav)?

While not directly related to making the Keema itself, preparing the pav buns correctly is essential for a great keema pav experience. Ensure the pav buns are soft, buttered, and lightly toasted on a griddle or skillet. This will give them a delightful crunch on the outside while keeping them fluffy and warm on the inside.

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for keema pav

Get all of your ingredients together before you start cooking. There are a lot of them and it’s much easier to be prepared.

Infusing whole spices in oil.

Infuse the whole spices in the oil for about a minute.

Frying onions, garlic and ginger in the flavoured spice oil.

Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 7 minutes or until they are just beginning to brown. Then stir in the garlic and ginger paste.

Adding the ground spices to the pan

Add the ground spices and stir them into the onion mixture.

The spices being mixed into the onions.

Your pan will become quite dry quickly.

Adding water to the pan so that the spices don't burn.

Stir in about 125ml (1/2 cup) water or chicken stock so that the spices don’t burn.

Adding passata to the pan

Add the passata.

Sauce simmering covered over a low heat.

Bring it all to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan to simmer for 5 minutes.

Adding minced (ground) meat to the pan.

Lift the lid and add the ground meat. Chicken in this case but any meat will do.

Cooking the keema

Continue cooking and breaking the minced (ground) meat down with a spoon. The more you break the meat up, the better it will be.

Adding yoghurt to the sauce.

Stir in the yoghurt well so that it is incorporated into the sauce.

Adding fresh, chopped chillies to the pan.

Then, if you like a spicier keema, stir in the fresh chillies.

Adding butter and salt to taste to finish the keema curry.

Finish it all off by adding the butter and then seasoning with salt to taste. Keep warm while you toast the buns (pav).

Toasting the buns.

Fry the buns in the butter until lightly toasted. You could also flip them over and fry the other side too if you like.

Keema pav

All done!

Pro Tips

  1. Select the right meat: When you make keema, the choice of meat plays a crucial role in the flavour and texture of the dish. If your diet permits, you should look for fatty cuts of meat, such as lamb or mutton, as they tend to have more flavour and juiciness. The fat helps keep the keema moist and tender during cooking. That said, you will love this lighter chicken keema version.
  2. Spice it up: Keema is all about bold flavours, so don’t be shy with the spices. Use a blend of aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chilli powder to add depth and heat to your Keema. Toasting the spices before adding them to the dish can enhance their flavors. Adjust the spice level according to your preference, but be mindful not to overpower the dish.
  3. Don’t skimp on the garnishes: One of the joys of Keema Pav is the assortment of garnishes that accompany it. Finely chopped onions, fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves, and a squeeze of lime juice can elevate the flavours and provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and spicy Keema. Additionally, you could serve Keema Pav with a side of pickles or chutneys, such as mint or tamarind, can add an extra burst of tanginess and complexity.
Keema pav

Dig in!

Keema pav is so good served with chai tea or masala chai.

Yield: 4 - 6

Chicken Keema Pav

Keema pav
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 – 6 fresh burger buns
  • 4 tbsp lightly salted butter
  • 500g minced (ground) chicken
  • FOR THE CURRY
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil or rapeseed (canola) oil, I use mustard oil
  • 2 Indian bay leaves (Cassia leaves)
  • 1 x 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods or 1 black, bruised
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder, more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • A pinch of ground mace
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp ground turmeric
  • 210ml (1 ¼ cup) water or stock (approx.)
  • 3 medium red onions, very finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) passata
  • 5 tbsp plain natural yoghurt, whisked until smooth
  • 4 green finger chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cold butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat until visibly hot. Stir in the whole spices and stir them into the oil for about 30 seconds to flavour the oil. Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir it into the onions for about 30 seconds.
  2. Mix the chilli powder, garam masala, fennel, mace, coriander, cumin and turmeric together and pour them into the pan, followed immediately with 70ml (1/4 cup) water and bring it all to a simmer. Stir in the passata and again bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Lift the lid and add the minced (ground) chicken. Stir it right in with a wooden spoon or spatula and press it down to break the meat down for a couple of minutes until you have no lumps in the meat. Cover the pan again for five minutes. When you lift the lid, you will see that the oil has raised to the top. Stir in the whisked yoghurt one tablespoon at a time until completely combined into the meat. Cover the pan again for about 3 minutes.
  4. Lift the lid and again you will see the oil flowing on top and it will smell amazing. Pour in about 250ml (1 cup) water or chicken stock and bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Let it simmer until it looks a bit like a Bolognese. Stir in the chopped chillies and butter and then try some and add salt to taste. Garnish with the chopped coriander. Keep warm.
  5. Now in another frying pan, melt two tablespoon butter over a medium-high heat and add half of your buns. Toast on both sides in the hot butter and then repeat with the remaining butter and buns. Obviously, if you have a large enough pan, this can all be done at the same time.
  6. Serve the keema either in a bowl and dip the buns in it or slather it all over the buns and dig in.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 398Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 711mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 5gSugar: 9gProtein: 14g

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I hope you enjoy this keema pav recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’m also very happy to answer any recipe questions you might have. 

 

 

Laura V

Monday 17th of June 2024

Sounds like just what I need, I have some ground chicken and wanted a good recipe. Something spicy, different, -this is it!

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 25th of June 2024

Perfect, hope you enjoyed it. Thank you Dan

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