Writing about Indian Food is difficult for me because more often than not I am just throwing stuff in my pot, adjusting as I go..I do start out with a rough idea in my mind..decide on the big things first..like will I be using vegetables or meat or chicken but from then on it’s more of an auto pilot.
In my opinion, curries and stews are made more as per taste and preference rather than a set in stone recipe.It’s easier to do this while baking which is a precise chemical reaction ,when done right, it will give you precise results.I add, adjust and measure things by hand or by the eye and rarely do I fish out my measuring cups and spoons for these things.I think the cuisine you are most familiar with makes you cook thus.There is undeniably something very therapeutic and visceral about this way of cooking but I understand that this kind of skill is acquired and can only come once you have cooked your way into a few curries.
I remember when I cooked my first chicken curry.I had no idea on what I was doing, how long to cook it, what it should look like when it was done..and now after about 6-7 years of cooking I can do this in my sleep.
The first time I attempted Chicken keema wasn’t very long ago though.About 3 years back,I tasted Chicken Keema Dosa at Empire,Bangalore and I was sold.Eating those Spicy Chicken keema drenched ,freshly made ,saucy dosas at 1 am in the night, after everything else in the city had closed became our thing every Saturday Night.I remember giving standing instructions to my husband on them.If anyone was ordering Keema Dosa at home, they have to get 2 for me too, even if I have just had a meal, even if I was on a diet and even if I say no.Thats my love for these Keema dosas!
I don’t like dry chicken keema..I like it saucy,spicy,tender and with enough kick to wake up all my tastebuds.This has been my goto recipe for chicken keema, the secret being addition of ample yogurt to give moisture and body.I pair them with dosas(obvious),at times layer it with 3/4 cooked basmati rice and bake for 1/2 hour for a keema Biryani and the most recent twist being spooning them generously inside mini buns or Pav just before the party for a handy but filling appetizer.
The Keema can be made a day in advance, depending on how fresh the buns are you can toast them with butter, slice them and spoon the keema just before the guests arrive so that you can be handsfree at the party.These are especially good for a large crowd.In my opinion these Chicken Keema Sliders are the best make ahead Indian Party Appetizers.
Spices that go in the Chicken Keema
Its best to roast the spices fresh and grind them but that’s not always possible.For those times you can substitute the Spice mix with 1 tbsp of garam masala and 3 tbsp of coriander powder if you don’t have the means or patience to roast the whole spices.If you want you can add whole cinnamon sticks instead of powdering them though some people don’t like the rude shock of a tree bark in their curry when they aren’t expecting it, for those times you can add cinnamon powder if you prefer.
To give this Chicken Keema a South Indian twist, temper the oil with mustard seeds and curry leaves before adding the onions.
Tips on how to make the best Chicken Keema Ever!
Any sauce of any cuisine begins with frying the vegetables till they are golden brown and the most important step here too is baking the bhuna masala-onion tomato roast.This is the basic of almost all indian curries.You start out sautéing the onions,ginger, garlic and chillies in oil, painstakingly waiting till they turn a nice golden brown and lose all their moisture.This step is crucial,which gives the sauce the colour and depth otherwise the chicken will be watery.Take your time here, tend the onions and be watchful.
Add the powdered roasted spices next and roast them for about 30 seconds.It helps release the oils from the spice better and also gives the beautiful colour to the curry.Be careful here and don’t wander off cause once you add the spices they can burn without giving you a moments notice.Next add in the tomatoes with the juices and all.If the mixture is too dry and is burning, you can add a splash of water to help it cook better(A splash is about 2 tbsp of water).
What kind of Chicken do I use to make this Chicken Keema.
Whatever you do,don’t try to make the keema at home with chicken breasts.Firstly,cause it’s an added work to clean that mixie jar and second because the chicken breasts don’t contain any fat which will make your keema very dry.I usually stock frozen chicken or buy fresh minced chicken from my local store.
Variations to this Chicken Keema
To make a Bengali Style Keema,use mustard oil instead of the normal oil.Use the panch phoren mix which has cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, and nigella (also known as kalonji) seeds.You can add potato cubes to it before adding the onions.
To make South Indian Style Keema,use Gingely or Coconut oil.Temper the oil with mustard seeds, curry leaves before adding the onions etc.Instead of adding lemon, you can add one piece of kokum(along with the water) or 2 tbsp Tamarind paste(after adding the chicken).
Shortcuts to make the chicken Keema
You can chop the onions,ginger,garlic and chilli together in a food processor and add at once to the oil.Also, the tomatoes can be chopped in the same way in the food processor.Use store-bought indian garam masala instead of roasting and grinding the whole masalas to save time.
- 4 Large Onions-Chopped
- 6 Tomatos-Chopped
- ½ Kg Minced Chicken
- 1½ Cup Yogurt
- 1 Inch Ginger-Chopped
- 4 Garlic Cloves-Chopped
- 2 Green Chillies-Slit lengthwise
- ½ tsp-Chilli Powder
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2-3 tbsp of Chopped Coriander for Garnish
- Salt To Taste(about 1½ tbsp)
- 1 tsp Jeera
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 3 cloves
- 4 peppercorns
- 3 tbsp coriander powder
- 2 star Anise
- 3 red Kashmiri Chillies
- Roast all the masalas at low heat in a flat pan till fragrant.
- Set aside.Once cool, powder them or pound in a pestle and mortar.
- Heat the oil in a pan on medium-high flame.
- Once the oil is hot and simmering, add the onion,ginger,garlic and green Chillies.Keep and eye on it and keep sautéing for about 15-20 minutes till the onions loose all water and start to turn brown.
- Reduce the flame to low, add the ground spices.Saute for 20 seconds and incorporate in the onions.
- Add the chopped tomatoes with their water next and keep cooking till the tomatos soften and turn mushy.If the mixture is burning, add a splash of water.This should take another 10 minutes.
- Add yogurt in 3 batches.Mixing well every time you add the yogurt.Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Next add in the chicken keema and with your ladle break any clumps and mix well.Do this step quickly before the chicken starts to cook to avoid lumps.
- Add water if required, cook the chicken in the spices for about 10-15 minutes till the curry starts to simmer.Once it simmers(bubbles on the surface) cook for another 5 minutes to ensure its done.
- Finish with juice of one whole Lemon and Coriander Leaves.