|Spice shop at Chelsea Market in NYC|
The first Indian dish I ever prepared was Keema Matar, a North Indian ground meat dish. A friend of mine who was married to an Indian introduced me to the world of aromatic spices. Spices like cardamon, cinnamon, and nutmeg made me think of the Indonesian Spice Islands, a group of islands to the north-east of Indonesia. Although these islands are quite small, they were the largest producers of nutmeg, cloves, pepper and mace in the world. I was living in Germany at the time and was worried about finding the necessary spices, but a trip to the Kleinmarkthalle (market hall) in Frankfurt alleviated my worries. Indian spices were easy to find and I went home looking forward to cooking my first Indian meal.
One of the spices used in the recipe is garam masala, an Indian spice blend consisting of cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns, cumin and coriander. The spice blend is widely available in Indian grocery stores and some specialty shops. (Although ground coriander and ground cumin are already included in the blend, I always add some extra as I very much like their taste. You may want to try this recipe without the additional 1/4 tsp of coriander and cumin the first time.)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or lamb)
1/2 cup (or more) of plain yogurt
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (I chop mine in a food processor to get the desired consistency)
1 cup frozen green peas
10 oz potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
- Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and cook the onion until lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger and all spices (garam masala through bay leaf) and cook for about 3-5 minutes on low heat. Stir regularly to prevent spices from burning.
- Add the meat and stir until it is no longer pink.
- Add the yogurt and potatoes and cook for 10 to 15 minutes stirring regularly.
- Add the tomatoes and peas. Stir, cover the saucepan and simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. If desired, add a little extra yogurt at the end. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves before serving.
I serve Keema Matar with raita and basmati rice. Naan, an Indian bread, also works well instead of the rice.