Keema Matar (Ground Beef Curry with Peas)
This Pakistani-style Keema Matar (Ground Beef Curry with Peas) is a one-pot keema recipe that’s easy-to-make yet deeply flavorful. Ready in under an hour, this recipe includes can’t-miss tips for juicy, perfectly cooked ground beef! Tested to perfection!
“The tastiest dish I’ve ever made with minced beef!”Neil
Growing up, we ate Keema, or curried, ground meat, almost weekly. Keema didn’t quite cause the anticipation of biryani, but it fell into the welcome dinner category. There’s this inexplicable comfort that comes from a bite of keema. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for it.
Matar, or green peas, add a burst of mild, subtly sweet flavor to keema, making them one of the most popular additions to Keema.
This one is similar to my Aloo Keema recipe, but with a few advantages:
- No whole spices: Similar to my Instant Pot version, it doesn’t include any whole spices, so your toddler’s biting into a black peppercorn won’t result in a theatrical dinner-time tantrum (or is that just mine?).
- Quick & easy: It comes together even quicker because you don’t have to wait for the potatoes to cook.
- Versatile: It’s more than a curry. Use it in buns for a burger, bread for a sandwich, as topping for pizza, sauce for pasta, filling for samosas or puff pastry, and pretty much anywhere you’d use ground meat.
- Freezer-friendly: Keema Matar freezes perfectly. Just thaw and warm it up on the stovetop with a splash of water.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Neutral oil: I use avocado or grapeseed.
- Onion: I’ve used yellow but you can also use red. I finely chop the onions in a food processor.
- Garlic & ginger: Either crush these using a mortar & pestle, or finely chop in the food processor.
- Ground beef: A decent level of fat (I use 20%) really enhances the juicy factor. Still, you can make it with lean meat, and the flavor in the curry will compensate. Feel free to use your favorite ground meat here such as lamb or goat – see Variations for tips on using Ground Chicken.
- Tomato: If you use a food processor to chop the tomatoes like I do, it’ll most likely break them down and release enough water to cook the keema. If you’re using Roma tomatoes or other tomatoes with less water quantity, you may have to add up to 1/2 cup water before the meat cooking process.
- Green chili peppers: I use a mild Serrano, which is less hot than Thai chili peppers. Adding the green chili after cooking gives it a kick. Sometimes I use a mild, chopped green chili pepper at the end of cooking to add a bit of fierce but tolerable heat at the end. If you don’t have a mild chili pepper, only add it in the beginning as the recipe calls for.
- Plain whole-milk yogurt: Enhances tartness and creaminess. Omit for dairy-free.
- Kosher salt: Use a tad less if using sea salt or table salt.
- Frozen green peas: If using fresh peas instead of frozen, add them at Step 4, before covering to cook the meat.
- Cilantro leaves: Herbs are essential in keema to brighten and lift it up. Mint is also nice here if you have it on hand.
- Lemon or lime juice: To liven up the dish with bright, citrusy notes.
All are easily available, if not already on-hand.
- Cumin seeds & coriander powder: Cumin seeds add depth and aroma. Coriander adds brightness and robust flavor.
- Red chili powder: If using Kashmiri red chili powder (similar to Paprika in heat), you may want to add 1/4 tsp regular red chili powder or cayenne to increase heat.
- Turmeric powder: For color, flavor, and all around goodness of turmeric.
- Freshly ground black pepper: Adds a pop of peppery flavor.
- Garam masala: If using store-bought, start with 1/4 tsp since it can be quite strong & overpowering.
How to Make Keema Matar
If you’re new to this dish, take heart. Keema is almost impossible to mess up. Here are some key tips:
- Sauté onions until golden brown. Browning the onions is key for deep flavor in the keema. Add the garlic & ginger and stir until aromatic. You’ll notice the onions have deepened even in more in color. If it any point the onions start to brown unevenly, deglaze the pan with 2 tbsp of water to help them release their color and flavor.
- Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes. Sautéing/stir-frying (called bhunai) the keema well is essential for an authentic-tasting keema. We’re going past ‘just cooked through’ and instead going toward searing the minced meat as much as possible.
- Add the tomato, green chili pepper, yogurt, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric, and salt and continue to sauté for 2 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. If using watery tomatoes, you’ll need 1/4 cup. If using Roma/plum tomatoes, they’ll cook down quite quickly, and you’ll have to use around 1/2 cup water. You need enough water so that it cooks and remains soft and juicy, but not too much to make it watery or soggy.
- Cover + cook. Toward the end, the water content will have naturally dried up.
- Stir in the peas, more green chili pepper should you desire the kick, and 1/2 cup water. Cover again to cook the peas. You want them to maintain shape, but also break easily when pressed between your fingers.
- Add the finishing spices & cilantro and sauté for another minute or two, until you can see the oil separating from the curry. T
- Cover and cook on low heat to allow the flavors to settle before turning off the heat. Sprinkle with more cilantro and squeeze in lemon or lime juice.
How to Serve Keema Matar
Sometimes we like to serve it with raita, crunchy vegetables like red onions, or a Kachumber Salad, but it’s so flavorful that it doesn’t really need much enhancement.
In terms of pairing, Keema Matar pairs well with just about anything:
- Naan, of course.
- Roti or Paratha (mmm!)
- Basmati Rice, Chana Pulao, or Chicken Pulao (or any pulao but Matar Pulao, which would be sort of redundant 😉).
- Buns for North Indian Keema Pau vibes.
- Good old’ sandwich bread.
- Adding potatoes along with the peas is a common variation. If using potatoes, add them in with the tomatoes, green chili, and yogurt. (For more potato recipes, check out my collection of Pakistani and Indian Aloo (Potato) Recipes.)
- Using Ground Chicken: Pakistani keema recipes usually use ground beef, but this recipe is great with ground chicken. If using chicken, here are the minor differences to note:
- This is an obvious one – beef takes longer to cook. I sauté both chicken and beef for the same amount of time. When I cover and cook, my chicken usually takes 10 minutes while my beef takes about 15 minutes to cook.
- Increase the freshly ground black pepper at the end by 1/4 teaspoon. Adding the spices such as coriander at the end also works well with chicken, giving it a welcome pungency.
More Keema Recipes:
- Aloo Keema (Ground Beef & Potatoes)
- Pakistani Beef Kofta Curry (Meatball Curry) if you really want to dial it up a notch.
- Easy Instant Pot Keema which I use in everything from pasta to filling.
- Lesser-known recipes like Keema Lobia (Ground Beef & Black-eyed Peas) or Keema Kareley (Ground Beef & Bitter Melon)
If you try this recipe, please let me know in the comments below and/or tag me on Instagram so I can see your creations. I love hearing from you!
Keema Matar (Ground Beef Curry with Peas)
- 3 tbsp neutral oil, such as grapeseed or avocado
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 (~220 g) medium onion, finely chopped
- 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped
- 1- inch piece ginger, crushed or very finely chopped
- 1 lb ground beef, See Note 1
- 1 medium (2 small/~250 g) ripe tomato, finely chopped – See Note 2
- 1-2 green chili peppers (such as a small Serrano or Thai chili), chopped
- 1 tbsp plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tsp ground coriander (or coriander powder)
- 3/4 tsp mild red chili powder, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 1/8 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 cup (~130 g) frozen green peas, thawed
- 1 small mild green chili pepper (such as a Serrano), chopped – optional
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 tsp garam masala, start with 1/4 tsp if using store-bought
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice, or serve with lemon/lime wedges
- Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over high heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and onion and sauté until the onions are golden brown, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute, until aromatic. Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until it’s no longer pink and most of the moisture dries up. Use a wooden spatula to break up the meat into small pieces to ensure no lumps.
- Add the tomato, green chili pepper, yogurt, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric, and salt and continue to sauté for 2 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. You’ll notice the liquid in the mixture is beginning to come to a boil. Add 1/4 cup water and allow it to come to a simmer again.
- Lower the heat to medium, cover and allow it to cook for 15 minutes, stirring once in between. If you feel that there is not enough moisture and the meat is sticking to the bottom of the pan, add another 1/4 cup water.
- Uncover, and stir in the peas, more green chili pepper (if using), and 1/2 cup water. Cover again and allow the mixture to cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through. (See Note 3)
- Add the black pepper, garam masala, and cilantro and sauté for another minute or two, until you can see the oil separating from the curry. Taste and adjust salt and spice. Lower the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and allow the flavors to settle for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, sprinkle with more cilantro and squeeze in lemon or lime juice. Serve hot with any kind of bread (roti, naan, sliced bread), or rice.
This is an update of the original Keema Matar post which was published on SEPTEMBER 27, 2019. I’ve made very minor tweaks to the recipe such as:
- Adding coriander powder toward the beginning instead of the end.
- Adding a small amount of water before covering to cook.
- Cleaning up the recipe writing, and giving the quantities in grams.
But, if you’d like the older one, please send me an email and I’ll be happy to share!
52 Comments on “Keema Matar (Ground Beef Curry with Peas)”
I love your recipes!! I made this and your egg potato curry and both were hits!! Accessible ingredients, clear instructions, and absolutely delicious. Perfectly spiced!! Thank you so much.
Thrilled to hear that, Jenna! Thanks for sharing!
This recipe is easy and awesome! I can’t eat nightshades (but love them), so I have to improvise with spicy dishes. I added a little extra ginger, garlic, coriander, with a pinch of sugar and couple tablespoons of turmeric juice to replace the tomato juices and it was great!
ooh such unique changes. So glad you enjoyed! Thanks for sharing!
Oh myyyy! This was absolutely delicious. We also made some easy raita and bought some garlic naan bread at the nearby grocery store…… I didn’t think we’d have the wherewithal to make our own naan tonight, and the store-bought was a fine accompaniment (so was the raita, which brought the spiciness down enough for my wimpy palate!). Thank you SOOOO much for this recipe, it’s a definite keeper. I’m planning on taking it camping one of these days and making it for my brother and sister in law, and won’t THEY be surprised at my cooking abilities! SO delicious, thank you again. I have one bone to pick, though! You say it freezes well? Sorry, but there was none left to attempt freezing it, we ate the whole thing! 😉 Thank you, thank you, thank you!
haha love the bone-picking! Thanks so much for sharing, Cheryl! Also, it’s rare that Indian & Pakistanis themselves make their own naan, so you’re just fine! ☺️
The yogurt was in the ingredients, but I couldnt find it in the method, when does it go in?
Hello! It’s in step 3.
Perfect instructions and very easy to follow.
Im a novice at cooking but it always brings up the yums from my family.
Glad to hear that, Arati! Thank you so much!
Great recipe! Is it possible to use garlic ginger paste instead? How much quantity would be best?
Thank you, Zee. Yes, you could use paste. I haven’t tried it myself but I think 1.5 tbsp would be enough for this quantity.
Fantastic and simple to follow along- thanks for the recipe! This will become one of my favorite recipes!
Very happy to hear that, Laura! Thanks so much!
When do you add the crushed cloves? After cooking or before adding tomatoes and other spices?
Hi Shafia, you’ll add the crushed garlic cloves along with the ginger. Sorry for any confusion!
My husband and I made this exactly as the recipe and it came out great. Not too spicy, yet flavourful, and so easy! This is going to become a regular in our house!
Thank you Izzah
You’re welcome, Nabeela! Thanks for sharing your review 🙂
Wow this recipe is AMAZING I only add 2 Bay leaves otherwise I follow your instructions. Definitely I will make this more often. Thank you
Thanks so much, Alba! So happy you liked it!