I love wading into uncharted waters (for me anyway). But, I hate to write about foreign cultures and foods about which I have little understanding. And, though I am wary writing about it, I absolutely love to eat new things. Which means that eventually I will try to write about it, and I beg your patience, your adventurous spirit, and your willingness to share your own insights.
This dish is called Kheema Masala. “Kheema” or “keema” simply means minced meat, and it is widely used in many Indian, Syrian, Pakistani, and other Middle Eastern dishes. It is often lamb or beef, but the type of meat does not alter the name as far as I know. I have used beef, but you could use lamb if you wanted to. My neighbor Linda and I had a chat about how, with a few minor alterations, this reminds her of the Kibby that she would often eat with her family when she was a kid. She still hasn’t brought me any proper Kibby like she keeps telling me she is going to do. (Linda, I’m calling you out here!! Make some Kibby for me!)
The “masala” is about a spice blend called Garam Masala, which I like. The “garam” means hot or spicy, and “masala” means a blend of spices…so “hot spicy blend” is probably a decent stab at a definition. This blend can be conjured up at home if you have an interesting spice collection handy, or it is also carried in many grocery stores. The blends vary depending on the purveyor or family, but they all have similar component spices: cinnamon, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, chiles, etc. There is a lot of room to play and to substitute here. I have added additional cumin to my recipe, because I like for the cumin to be a bit more assertive in this dish.
So, this dish is simply minced meat, in this case beef, sautéed with onions and seasoned with a fragrant and spicy blend of herbs and spices. That is it. It is the epitome of simplicity. This is a companion recipe for two items that are already on PIE. A few days ago I posted grilled naan bread, and last year I shared my recipe for a basic hummus. I did not sit down and feast on just a big bowl of meat (not that I don’t do that quite often…see Chili). This meat dish is a perfect companion for naan and hummus. It is a simple and filling meal. You can easily make the hummus and even the Kheema ahead of time and warm the Kheema just before serving it.
I was laughing at myself (which I have occasion to do quite often) when I made this because I was explaining to Pitts and the kids that you had to put the hummus on the bread first, and then you had to apply the meat, otherwise it rolled off…just like when you stick corn to your mashed potato spoon at the cafeteria. The kids looked at me like I was crazy…not only for my bad manners but because I was explaining this Indian/Middle Eastern dish with reference to grade school cafeteria food. I thought to myself that some of our buses took a rather circuitous route to get here, but now we are all together and it is pretty fun learning about new things together. And, I still like sticking buttery corn to my even buttery-er mashed potatoes.
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 teaspoon fresh, minced)
⅛ teaspoon ginger powder (or 1 teaspoon fresh, minced)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
1 teaspoon garam masala spice blend
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ pint of grape tomatoes or one medium tomato, chopped
Saute the onion in olive oil until it is softened and translucent. Add the spices to the onions and mix them to combine. Cook the spices with the onions until the spices become fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add the ground beef and saute it with the onions and spices until it is almost completely browned. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook the beef and tomatoes until the beef is completely cooked. Break up the beef with a wooden spoon as you cook it to separate any large clumps of meat. Taste the meat and add additional garam masala if you want it spicier.
Remove the Kheema Masala to a serving dish and serve it with hot buttered grilled naan bread and hummus. With the addition of a plate of fruit, this is a complete and filling meal.
Should you want to try your hand at a homemade Garam Masala blend, visit the following resources for a jumping off spot:
And there are a lot of other ideas for Garam Masala blends and other dishes that use Garam Masala on Foodgawker. You can easily use Foodgawker, Tastespotting, Photograzing and Tasteologie as culinary encyclopedias by using their search engines. There, you will find interesting individual cooks instead of 100 pages of Allrecipes and FoodNetwork recipes, as you do on Google. That’s not to say that Allrecipes and FoodNetwork don’t have great merit, because they do. But they also have immense search engine gravity, if you will, and many of us never get past page one of Google results to explore all of the varied and interesting food blogs that are out there and would absolutely love for you to visit. Sites like Foodgawker, Tastespotting, Photograzing, and Tasteologie are like a clearinghouse for the independent recipe lovers like me. Imagine, if you will, thousands of food bloggers sitting at their computer screens hoping beyond hope that you will visit. Which gives me yet another excuse to say…THANK YOU for being here with me.