Chicken Keema

From, by Shashi Charles
Chicken Keema

Chicken Keema Photo

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.

Chicken Keema Picture

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.

Chicken Keema Image

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!

Chicken Keema Pic


Chicken Keema Recipe



  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, chopped, remove at least half the seeds - careful though when handling this chili as the seeds will set your fingers on fire!
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk


  1. Sauté onions, garlic and ginger in a pan with olive oil, over medium heat for about 7 minutes then move this onion mix to the sides of the pan.
  2. Add in the ground chicken and stir for about 5 minutes.
  3. As soon as it begins to brown and extra liquid starts to seep from it, add the bay leaf, the mint leaves, Serrano pepper, the cardamom pods and whole cloves, the grama masala, turmeric, coriander, paprika, cumin, and chili powder and sauté for about another 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the green peas and tomatoes and coconut milk and let cook for about 5 more minutes, making sure to stir well so the coconut milk deglazes the pan.
  5. Remove bay leaf and enjoy warm with veggies or rice or naan.


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