Today I am sharing a recipe for a super simple and delicious Pakistani qeema or keema. In our family, we would call it “naashta wala qeema” which translates into breakfast qeema ; and the reason we called it this was because it was usually made for breakfast and eaten with puri or paratha. We loved it so much that we had it at lunch and dinner as well, but the name stuck - breakfast qeema it was!
What is qeema / keema?
The literal translation of qeema / keema is minced or ground meat, and any dish made with minced meat is also referred to as qeema. In Pakistani and Indian cuisine, qeema is a staple dish and there are many different recipes using it. For instance, aloo qeema (mince with potatoes), matar qeema (mince with peas), fancy dum ka qeema that is reserved for dawaats and this Pakistani qeema recipe with onions.
Any ground meat can be used to make qeema - beef, mutton (goat mince), chicken, lamb or turkey. In Pakistan, the choice of mince is usually beef mince but in India it’s lamb or goat mince (for religious reasons). Chicken mince has gained popularity for health reasons. In Australia, I have started using turkey mince as it’s healthier than beef mince but has more flavour than chicken mince.
Why is qeema so popular in Pakistani & Indian cuisine?
- It’s quick to make - compared to other forms of bone-in or even boneless meat, qeema just quicks really quickly.
- It’s super versatile - it can be served with rice, roti or paratha. Leftovers can be used to make sandwiches, samosas and it can be mixed through pasta for Desi style qeema spaghetti.
- It’s affordable, and it can feed a lot of people in a small quantity. Plus it can be bulked with vegetables like potatoes, capsicum, peas to make it feed more people.
- It can be made with any protein - there’s beef, mutton, lamb, chicken, turkey and even vegetarian mince (or soya mince made from soya granules).
How to make Pakistani qeema / keema?
Compared to other qeema recipes such as aloo qeema, the Pakistani qeema recipe that I am sharing today is on the dry side or as we call it in Urdu ‘sookha qeema’. It’s also why it goes so well with puri and paratha.
- The first step in making this qeema recipe is dividing up the onions. One onion will be sliced and fried till golden brown, and then set aside. The second onion will form the base of the qeema curry.
- Chop and fry the second onion; then add the whole spices followed by ginger, garlic, the raw mince, the powdered spices and the tomatoes. Once the raw meat is added, it’s important to saute / stir fry the meat on high flame so it browns properly, a technique we call “bhunna” in Urdu.
- After the tomatoes are softened, the mince will again be cooked on a high heat till the oil rises to the top of the qeema, and that’s when you know the qeema is done.
- At that stage, the sliced brown onions will be crushed and added on top of the qeema, along with the green chilies and a drizzle of lemon juice. Cover the pot, and put the qeema on low simmer for 5 minutes. This last step will infuse the flavours off the onions and green chilies throughout the qeema making it absolutely scrumptious!
Serve this Pakistani qeema recipe with puri or paratha with a light kachumber salad and raita on the side. It can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner but my favourite way to have this qeema recipe is for breakfast - not the light
Looking for more Pakistani & Indian recipes for your weekly dinner inspiration. Check out the following:
- Pakistani Aloo Keema (Potato with ground mince)
- Ginger Chicken, Pakistani style
- Murghi ka Salan (Chicken curry with Onions and Tomatoes)
- Karahi Chicken
- Aloo Gosht (Mutton Curry with Potatoes) – Stovetop & Pressure Cooker method
Pakistani Qeema recipe | Breakfast qeema with onions | Pakistani style ground mince
- 4 tablespoons oil
- ½ kg beef mince chicken, goat, lamb or turkey can be substituted
- 2 large onions divided
- 1 inch ginger sliced
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 - 3 cloves
- 8 - 10 black peppercorns
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 2 black cardamom bari elaichi
- ½ - 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ - 1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 3 - 4 green chilies
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Wash and peel the onions. Finely chop one of the onions, and slice the second one.
Heat oil, and fry the sliced onions first till they turn golden brown. Take the onions out in a bowl, and let them cool. Crush them lightly and set aside.
Heat the leftover oil that was used to fry the sliced onions. Add chopped onions and fry till light golden.
Add sliced ginger and garlic paste, followed by the whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, black peppercorn, cinnamon and black cardamom)
Cook for a minute till the flavour of the spices is released and then add the mincemeat.
Cook for 2-3 minutes till mince colour changes, and then add the powdered spices (red chili flakes, coriander seeds and salt).
Cook for a minute, and then add the tomatoes.
Cook uncovered for about 20 - 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Use a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes as they soften.
Once the tomatoes soften, turn the heat to medium high and saute the qeema on high heat to bhonofy it. The qeema is ready once the oil separates (you will see oil rising to the top). The qeema will be on the dry side.
In the end, place the crushed brown onions on the qeema, along with green chilies and lemon juice. Cover the pot, and put it on low simmer for 5 minutes. This step is known as dum, and will infuse the flavours of the brown onion and green chilies into the qeema.
This Pakistani qeema recipe can be served with rice or roti as well, but my preferred way is with puri or paratha.
- Adjust the oil content based on the mince type that you are using. Beef mince already has fat in it, but chicken and turkey mince is relatively leaner so will require more oil. Just make sure that there's enough oil for the mince to be browned properly.
- To save time, the sliced fried onions added in the end can be replaced by pre-packaged crispy fried onions available from Desi stores. Just add 3 - 4 tablespoons of the fried onions, and put the qeema on dam for 5 minutes as stated in the recipe.