First, some housekeeping: last winter I was contacted by a representative from Meijer about trying some of their products. Meijer at the time was my favorite local grocery store–ever since the Kroger’s has been renovated, I would call Meijer the most economical and the best one stop shopping, but the renovated Kroger’s outshines it some areas now (and is genuinely closer), so it depends on how much time I have and what I need. For example, we did all of Alex’s ballet and school supply shopping at Meijer. At any rate, all that craziness then happened with my gall bladder so I was not shopping much at all for a while, and then summer came, and, well, it was a crazy summer. Fun, but crazy. Fast-forward to now, when I finally got around to using the gift card they sent me. First, I want to say if you are looking for baking items (bakeware, cookie cutters, cake decorating pieces) and you live in the middle of nowhere, i.e., nowhere near a real cake store, Meijer is actually a good option. I have gotten very competitively priced cookie cutters and Sil-Pats there as well as Nordic Ware bundt pans and cooking thermometers. I also took the opportunity to try the Meijer Organics Honey Graham Bears, which were perfectly acceptable (that is something I buy for the kids) and the Meijer Naturals Chocolate Chip Cookies–which were an extremely pleasant surprise. Made with butter, they actually rivaled the Pepperidge Farm chocolate chunk cookies, which are my go-to cookie when I am craving that crunchy chocolate chip cookie flavor. I know where I am sending John next time I start craving cookies when I am sick and not up to baking!
About this recipe, now: I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is married to an Indian man, and she mentioned that he referred to rice/legume pilafs as Indian comfort food. I told her that for me Indian comfort food is kheema (also spelled keema). For one thing it is exceptionally easy, easier than a pilaf by far as it only uses one pot and the pilaf usually cooks the legumes separately. It is also predictable–I have tried many variations and while I have liked some better than others, I have enjoyed them all, as has my family. It is also great “gateway” food for adults or children who are uncertain about Indian food because in many ways (but not exactly flavor) it resembles a spaghetti meat sauce. There is just something comforting and easy about them–I can make them without a recipe at this point.
However, this one is from a recipe, because I never tire of being inspired by recipes, especially those produced by someone from a culture that is not my own. So far my favorite 2 kheemas are this one I am about to share and the kheema with greens I made earlier this summer.
*I almost always double kheema recipes, first because we love them, but second, and more important, because (for health reasons) I like to use a combination of ground turkey and ground beef–and they don’t come in small enough packages to do that with a single recipe. The recipe below is a “single” recipe.
2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
2-4 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 T minced garlic
1 1/2 T minced ginger
1 1/2 lbs ground meat of choice (lamb and beef are great–poultry mixes well to make it healthier with either; lean is preferred but I use local beef so it is what it is)
2 T ground coriander
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground cayenne or paprika
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t ground turmeric
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1-2 small hot chile peppers, split in half (I left out)
salt to taste
2 medium boiling potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 heaping cup chopped tomatoes, preferably fresh and ripe but can use canned, either way drain them in colander first
1 cup water
1 heaping cup frozen peas
lemon juice to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt, and fry, stirring, until the edges are nicely browned and it is beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes–the onions should continue browning. Add another pinch of salt and stir.
Add the ground meat and break it up and stir it into the onions. Add a pinch of salt. Stir fry the meat until it browns.
Add the spices to the meat and stir them in. Add the chile peppers at this point if using, and add another pinch of salt. Add the potatoes, tomatoes and water and stir. bring to a boil and reduce heat, partially covers, to simmer for 30 minutes. Check if the potatoes are tender and if the mixture is too dry or wet at this point. If too dry, add a little more water, if too wet, simmer more briskly–and either way continue simmering if the potatoes are not done (cover the pan completely if the moisture balance is perfect though–it should be moist but not watery). When the potatoes are tender but still holding together, add the peas and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste for salt and add a squirt of lemon juice. Serve with basmati rice and Greek yogurt with your chutney of choice (I used a locally made plum chutney). I also serve with red pepper flakes and/or cayenne pepper to increase the heat for those who want it.