As much as I love my slow cooked meats, some days I just want the satisfaction of taking a meal from pot to plate right after I cook it.
On days like these, grass-fed ground beef is my go-to. I go through a LOT of this stuff. I use it in curries, stir fries, frittatas, casseroles, chilis, meatballs…the list goes on. There’s one type of cuisine, however, that I thought it would never mesh with: my all-time favorite, Indian.
Since cows are sacred in Hindu culture, you don’t find beef in very many Indian recipes, especially not ground beef.
Or so I thought! My mind was blown last week when I discovered a little dish called keema on Annie D’Souza’s wonderful food blog, A Worthy Pause. Choirs sang. Angels rejoiced.
The word keema simply means minced meat, and the dish is a common one in India and Pakistan. It’s usually made with mutton or goat, but ground beef has become the norm in the West.
Traditional keema also includes potatoes and peas – like Indian shepherd’s pie! Yum! The Paleo Police might insist that peas are off limits (the are a legume, after all) but I’m going to let it slide. I think the sweetness they add is a perfect balance to the tang of the tomatoes.
However, as someone who is sensitive to starchy veggies like white potatoes, I decided to use turnips as an alternative. Now, if you’ve never cooked with turnips or are convinced you don’t like them, white potatoes would work fine here. But I encourage you to give turnips a chance! They absorb the rich spice mixture really well, and once they’re nice and soft, I guarantee you won’t think twice about them.
So enjoy this richly spiced, exotic yet simple version of Indian comfort food – an excellent one-pot meal that will give you your Indian food fix, minus the hours of slow cooking.
A quick note on the process:
This recipe is intended for a weekly cookup so it makes 6 to 8 servings. It calls for 2 lbs. of ground beef, and although it might seem tedious, it’s important to season and brown the meat in batches rather than all at once so it gets evenly cooked. My Dutch oven is nice and big so I can fit about 1 lb. in it at a time, but if you’re working with smaller equipment, consider doing it in 2 or 3 rounds.
- 2 Tbsp. garam masala
- 1 Tbsp. turmeric
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. cayenne
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ginger
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
- 1 Tbsp. ghee (or other high-heat cooking oil)
- 1 large leek, finely chopped
- 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes (including liquid)
- 2 large turnips, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
- ½ 15-oz. can coconut milk
- ½ lb. frozen peas
- 1 lb. frozen spinach
- Juice of 2 lemons
- ½ cup broth (if needed)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- Start by mixing the spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot to medium high.
- Add 1 lb. of ground beef to the pot and start breaking it apart using a wooden spoon.
- Season with roughly ¼ of your spice mix and stir to combine.
- Once browned, remove meat from pot using a slotted spoon, leaving the juices behind. Set cooked meat aside in a bowl.
- Repeat steps 2-5 until all meat has been cooked and set aside.
- Add ghee to the pan drippings in your pot and heat to medium high.
- Add leek, turnip, tomatoes, coconut milk and the remaining spice mixture (there should be about ½ left) to the pot and mix well.
- Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until turnip is very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
- Do the dishes.
- Once turnip is well cooked, return meat to the pot. Toss in spinach, peas and lemon juice, and mix well.
- If it looks too dry for your liking, add more coconut milk or a few tablespoons of broth.
- Reduce heat to low, bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, making sure it doesn’t dry out or burn at the bottom.
- Add salt if needed and stir in fresh cilantro.
This dish is perfect served over mashed cauliflower or caulirice.