When I was a young 'un, my mom would often feed me what she called "mince". Now, back then, I never thought to question what went into this so called "mince" - all I knew that it was plain old yumalicious!
It was layer upon layer of flavor - when one flavor ended, another one began! If my mom wasn't looking, I'd just take a spoon to the sauté pan over the stove - thinking that sometimes plates were overrated! As time went by though, I came to understand that "mince" was really just super spiced ground meat - also called keema by some of my Sri Lankan and Indian friends.
Now, "Keema" (pronounced ki-mah) is a traditional South Asian ground meat dish, spiced up with cumin, coriander, chili, mint, bay or curry leaves, onions, garlic, and tomatoes or tomato paste - in most cases.
The ground meat used could be mutton, beef or chicken. Sometimes, peas or potatoes are also added in. Keema is often served as is - with naan or rice, or in the form of a kebab or as a filling in a samosa or Sri Lankan "pattie" (kind of like an empanada). The word "keema" is rumoured to have Greek or Turkish origins, but in the context of what I grew up eating - it translates into just plain yum!
These days I make my own version of keema - with chicken or veggie mince. Today, I am sharing my version of chicken keema.
I usually start off with a base of onions, garlic, and garlic, and layer on cardamoms, cloves, garam masala, turmeric, coriander, paprika, cumin, and mint onto the ground chicken before adding in peas and tomatoes.
Usually, I deglaze the pan with some coconut milk which just brings all the flavors together beautifully while adding an incredibly creamy texture to the chicken, before being absorbed completely.
This is a favorite in our house - my daughter and I usually eat this with a side of broccoli - though sometimes I have caught her sneaking spoonfuls of it from the pan over the stove!