A quick and easy lamb curry for when you’re really in a hurry
Spring to it: this simple delight makes great use of the classic combo of lamb and mint
Lamb keema, or keema matar – meaning spiced mince with peas – is a dry-style curry that’s easy to make and real comfort food. I usually serve it with rice, but you can have it with naan bread, or use it to fill little lettuce cups and top with crispy fried shallots, as you would with larb.
As with most curries, this tastes even better the next day, so it’s the perfect make-ahead meal. Just add the peas when you are reheating. This is also a delicious filling for samosas and the traditional keema naan. You can also add cubes of potato to soak up the flavours and provide carbohydrates, then serve it with some steamed broccoli instead of rice.
I love the combination of mint and lamb; it’s pure spring and such a perfect pairing. Lamb is full of flavour and can take strong spices, so it works so well in this simple curry dish. I also often use this lamb keema to top a baked sweet potato; the sweetness of the potato is really great with lamb. Or make a shepherd’s pie with the keema as the base and top with mashed sweet potato.
One of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes calls for a little ground cumin and maple syrup to be added to mashed sweet potato and it’s just incredible. It brings out all of the right smoky and sweet elements, along with a little butter of course. He then folds it through puy lentils and serves crispy chorizo on top. It’s one of my go-to dinners.
As curries go, this is a really easy one. There’s no slow cooking involved, so it is perfect midweek. Make sure the lamb mince has time to brown as that is when its flavour will really come through.
Minced meat is incredibly versatile and so handy to have in the freezer. It’s easy to associate it with basic humdrum dinners of monotonous savoury mince, but cooked in the right way it can be amazing. I always add lots of herbs, plenty of spices while it’s frying in the pan, and a splash of saltiness with fish sauce, Worcester sauce or soy sauce.
Fold though a few handfuls of baby spinach when you’re adding the peas to this for even more green goodness. The leaves will wilt and provide a lovely earthiness. I like to top this keema with plenty of herbs and sliced spring onion and serve it with a few slices of cucumber and tomato. It all tastes great together and provides even more of the recommended seven vegetables a day.
2tbs olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1tbs curry paste
½tsp ground cumin
500g minced lamb
2 bay leaves
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
150g frozen peas
4tbs coriander, roughly chopped
2tbs mint, finely chopped
1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the cloves, followed by the onions. Cook and stir for five minutes before adding the minced garlic. Once the onion is soft, add the ground cumin and curry paste. Season with a little salt and stir to combine everything.
2. Add the minced lamb and cook for a further five minutes until it starts to brown.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
4. Add the peas five minutes before serving so they stay bright and fresh. Serve with rice, and scatter with the chopped coriander and mint.