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How to make Keema Rice

Everything you need to know about the tropical subcontinent’s favourite rice

How to make Keema Rice

What is keema? 

Let’s start at the beginning… what exactly is keema? Maybe keema naan is your go-to accompaniment to an Indian or Nepalese meal, but keema rice could be new territory. Keema, or queema, directly translates to minced meat – most often lamb, goat, or beef. Its history is deeply rooted in the various languages spoken across India, including Hindi and Punjab (which both use qīmā), as well as Urdu (with a slightly different spelling, qime).

Keema doesn’t just have a home in India though – it’s also a very popular dish in neighbouring countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nepal.

Where does keema rice come from?

Regional versions of keema – seasoned and minced meat – are found dotted all over the globe. Whether it’s Mexico’s chilli con carne, France’s hachis parmentier, or Greece’s moussaka, minced meat is a versatile ingredient. But it’s thought that keema’s life started somewhere in the Persian empire – modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The dish’s popularity then spread east with the Mughals, eventually finding its way to Pakistan and India.



How to make keema rice

Although keema rice is a delicious way of adding a punch to plain rice, it most likely started life as the butcher making use of leftovers – mincing together offcuts unlikely to sell on their own – in order to reduce waste. Of course, nowadays there’s a bit more care taken in producing the tasty keema, with spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and chilli powder mainstays in most recipes. The seasoned meat is then added to rice with fresh veggies like onions, tomatoes and peas.

We think the best rice to use in keema recipes is fan favourite, basmati. This long-grain variety offers a light, fluffy texture, and it’s less starchy and sticky than its short-grain cousins more popular further East.

Which meats and proteins can be added to keema rice?

When it comes to choosing your keema rice’s protein, the world is your oyster. Seasoning may vary for different meats, but there’s nothing to say you can’t try something a little bit different. Lamb, goat and ground beef are traditional, but we think recipes are meant to be experimented with. How about some white breast meat, like chicken or turkey? Or you could use thicker chops of beef or mutton for a totally different texture. Just consider how fatty the cut is, as you don’t want your rice to get too greasy while mixing it all together.

What should you serve with keema rice?

Given keema rice’s complex mix of tastes and textures, and a healthy serving of protein to boot, it doesn’t really need to accompany anything. It can be both delicious and filling all by itself. But if you want to fill up the whole table, and satisfy a family of rumbly tummies, here are a few ideas of what keema rice could accompany as a side dish.

  • Spiced veggies (try a chilli and garlic aubergine – it’s tasty when baked)

  • Sweet greens (think broccoli, spinach or avocado)

  • Flatbreads with dips (perhaps add some hummus or yoghurt)

Keema rice top tips

If your stomach is grumbling (like ours) with all this talk of keema rice, we’ll leave you with some of our top tips, so you can nail your next keema rice recipe.

  • You can use frozen veggies if there’s nothing in the fridge – just chuck them into the pan with your rice and make sure they’re cooked all the way through

  • To add an extra element of freshness and spice, consider some fresh coriander from the garden, and some chopped chillies

  • Don’t overlook kitchen staples, salt and pepper, when seasoning your keema rice

  • If you’re cooking with lamb, some freshly grated ginger will make all the difference

  • If stir-frying your rice, make sure you break up any lumps of pre-cooked rice beforehand