Keema Mattar is such comfort food. Eaten with a paratha, puri or a chappati, turned into a paratha roll or as a sandwich. Cooking it with chicken mince instead of mutton (goat) means it’s a struggle getting it to taste right and also keeping it moist. This is the closest I’ve got and I’m always open to suggestions.
This is adapted from a minced lamb recipe of Madhur’s Jaffreys from a lovely book “Climbing The Mango Trees”. Anyone who grew up in Delhi up to the 1980’s will feel really nostalgic reading this book. I know older Dilli wallahs will scorn this and predate my time frame up to the 1950’s but I really feel as a child growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s I experienced the last tiny remnants of a gracious city that comes alive in this book.
Keema Mattar (Ground Chicken with Peas)
1 cup yoghurt
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated to a pulp
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
500 grammes minced chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 stick cinnamon, about 2 inches in length
2 whole cardamom pods
1 bay lea
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes grated, without the skin (or 1 cup passata)
1 cup peas
½ a cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 finely chopped green chillies (optional)
1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
Put the yoghurt in a bowl and whisk lightly until smooth and creamy. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin, coriander, salt, ginger and garlic. Mix until well blended.
Add the minced chicken to the yoghurt mixture and mix (its easiest to mix with your hands) till its thoroughly blended.
Pour the oil into a large wok or frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in the cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves. Stir once or twice (till you start smelling the spices) and then add the onion. Stir and fry about 5 minutes, or until the onion pieces are reddish brown.
Add all the meat. Stir, breaking up the chicken until there are no lumps and it stops being pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the grated tomato and stir it in. Add the peas and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook for 5-10 minutes. Uncover. Most of the liquid should have evaporated by this time.
Stir and fry the meat for the next 5 minutes, removing and discarding the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and bay leaves. When all the water has evaporated stir for a few minutes till the oil separates (you’ll see little drops of oil between the chicken).
Add the garam masala; give it a stir and then the coriander leaves.