Indian Keema gets a slight makeover with lean ground turkey, tangy yogurt, and toasted pine nuts. This dish is packed with aromatics and wonderful texture. Every bite is so delicious!
Years ago my sister and I frequented a local Indian restaurant about once a month, filling up on fresh naan, chicken tikka masala, and keema. So good. That place has since gone out of business (sniff), and although I miss the place, I’ve since learned how to cook all of those recipes myself (although certainly not as good as they did! But enough to satisfy my craving for Indian food.)
If Indian cooking intimidates you, Keema is a great recipe to help get your feet wet. It’s extremely easy and uncomplicated, very forgiving, and pretty quick.
What is Keema?
Keema (also known as Kheema or Qeema), meaning minced meat, is a traditional Indian dish usually consisting of ground beef or lamb and simmered with potatoes, peas, tomatoes, coconut milk, and Garam masala. It’s typically served over rice or as a topping for naan bread. It’s sort of like an Indian Chili.
The recipe we’re sharing today has some variations. It stays true to the aromatics and Indian spices, but we pan-fry lean ground turkey, omit the peas and potatoes, and spread fresh naan with a layer of Greek yogurt, before topping it with the flavorful meat mixture and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts and freshly torn mint. It’s hearty, but light and cool. Every bite is spiced, tangy, creamy, and wonderful!
What is Garam masala?
Garam masala is a spice blend made up of whole cinnamon, peppercorns, mace, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamon pods, which are toasted in a pan to release their aromatic flavors, then ground down into a powder. It’s very commonly used in Indian cuisine, from curries to lentil dishes.
Recipe Variations and Tips
- Vary the meat: Ground turkey can easily be replaced with lean ground beef or ground chicken, if you prefer.
- Add in peas: Keema is typically made with baby peas, so feel free to add in about 1/3 cup (thawed, if frozen) to the mixture.
- Don’t overcook the meat: Don’t overcook the meat or it will end up tough and dry. You want there to still be some moisture in the pan once the turkey is cooked through.
- Keema Naan: We highly recommend our homemade Naan recipe for serving, but you can certainly buy it.
- How to Serve: You can cradle the naan like a taco or eat it flat like a pizza.
How to Make Keema
This keema recipe is super easy. Here are the 3 simple steps:
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add in garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice, letting it evaporate.
- Add in the turkey and cook, breaking it up into tiny pieces. Stir in the spices and let them permeate into the meat.
- Lightly toast the naan.
- Give the naan a good swipe of Greek yogurt, then top with some of the turkey mixture, fresh torn mint, and toasted pine nuts.
Allow any leftovers to cool completely. The meat mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for up to 5 days. You can freeze keema in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight. To reheat, transfer it to a saucepan with a splash of chicken broth (or water) over low heat and stir until heated through.
Other Indian-Inspired Recipes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion , finely chopped
- 3 gloves garlic , minced
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons Garam masala
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup pine nuts , lightly toasted
- 4 to 6 Naan bread (our homemade recipe or store bought)
- 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves , torn into small pieces
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper; cook until the liquid evaporates.
- Add turkey to the pan and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Garam masala and cayenne pepper, and cook for one more minute. Season with a dash of salt.
- Lightly toast the Naan.
- Give a good swipe of the yogurt onto each Naan, then top with some of the turkey mixture and mint.
- You can cradle the naan like a taco or eat it flat like a pizza.