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There's not much that can beat a delicious hot keema pulao! This is a traditional Pakistani rice pilaf made with mincemeat and the finest Basmati rice. It's flavoured with different spices to give it an unbeatable aroma and mouthwatering taste.
The fact that it is a pulao makes it a simple dish. No complicated and long procedures to follow, and the ingredient list won't make you rush to your grocery store! The method is pretty straightforward, so if you're a beginner at cooking, with this dish, you will have everyone fooled into thinking that you successfully made a complex yet delicious dish.
On a rainy day, when you just want to sit down to a wholesome meal, keema pulao is your best bet! It's a complete meal that doesn't need anything else, but you can spruce it up by serving a cooling yoghurt raita with it. Keema was one of the many favourites served in the courts of the Mughal Kings, so it's no surprise that the people of the Subcontinent love to eat it and have come up with many recipes for keema. Read on to learn how you can make this recipe at home, and we promise you will come back for seconds!
What is Keema Pulao?
Keema is mince meat in Urdu, and pulao is a rice dish such as the pilaf in many European and Asian countries. So, basically, keema pulao or keema biryani is a layered rice and keema dish in which the keema is cooked with lots of spices and aromatics and then layered with boiled, long-grained Basmati rice to produce a beautiful and scrumptious rice pilaf with minced meat.
It's an all-in-one dish that's great for serving guests or making on weeknights when you're out of ideas for what to feed the family. It's a great way to incorporate some protein into a picky eater's diet, so if you have kids who don't like meat, just serve them keema pulao, and they will ask you to make it again!
Keema Pulao's History
The history of this dish dates back to the royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire. Keema was a beloved dish of many of the Mughal kings, and the royal cooks used it in many dishes. There are so many keema recipes from the Subcontinent, and they all lead back to the Mughal era. And this is no exception. Literally, it's a meal fit for a king, and your family will love it!
What is the Best Keema Pulao Recipe
- Flavorful Fusion: Keema Pulao is a delicious fusion of tender, spiced, minced meat and fragrant, perfectly cooked rice. The combination of hearty minced meat and aromatic rice means you are going to enjoy every bite.
- Easy Preparation: Looks can be deceiving! Although this recipe looks decadent, it is actually quite easy to make. It doesn’t require too many complex steps, so both beginners and experienced cooks can make it easily.
- Customizable Ingredients: You can choose the type of ground meat you prefer, beef, chicken, or lamb. You can also adjust the spice levels to your liking by increasing or decreasing the amount of red chilli powder and green chillies.
- Appealing Presentation: The vibrant, colourful layers of rice and spiced meat, garnished with fried onions and fresh herbs, make this an eye-catching and visually appealing dish. It’s a crowd-pleaser, perfect for special occasions and gatherings.
- Savoury Chutney: It is a treat on its own, but you can take it up a notch by serving it with a chutney made from tomatoes, green chillies, and coriander leaves. This refreshing chutney complements the pulao beautifully and adds an extra oomph to this delicious meal.
What items I need to make Keema Pulao
Here are some of the things you will need to make Keema pulao:
- Large Pot or Pan: You’ll need a large, heavy-bottomed pot or pan to cook the keema and layer the rice.
- Lid: A lid to cover the pot while cooking the Qeema and later during the “dum” process to trap steam and flavours.
- Separate Pot for Boiling Rice: To cook the rice, you’ll need a separate pot, which should be large enough to accommodate the rice and water. This pot should also have a lid.
- Knife and Cutting Board: To finely slice onions, chop tomatoes, and slit green chillies.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate measurements of all ingredients.
- Sturdy Spoon or Spatula: To stir and mix the keema and rice.
- Blender or Food Processor: To make the chutney, if desired.
- Strainer/Colander: For draining the soaked rice after washing.
If you need a handy list of utensils and equipment which comes in handy around the kitchen, or you are looking for some helpful kitchen essentials, here's our must-read guide to kitchen essential items and utensils.
What ingredients are required for Keema Pulao
Ingredients for Keema (Minced Meat):
- Minced meat: 400 grams. You can choose the meat according to your liking, beef, chicken, or lamb. Authentically, this dish tastes best using ground beef.
- Cooking Oil: ½ cup. Use a neutral oil such as canola so it doesn’t overpower the taste of the minced meat. if you want to give it an authentic touch, you could use Ghee, which would increase the taste and give it an unbeatable aroma.
- Onions: 2 large, finely sliced. Onions make the base of the masala for the minced meat, so they are an essential ingredient.
- Red chilli powder: ½ tablespoon. Adds a spicy kick to the keema.
- Salt: ½ teaspoon. This can easily be adjusted to taste.
- Ginger and garlic paste: ½ teaspoon. Another key ingredient, this adds an earthy flavour and delicious aroma to the meat.
- Tomatoes: 2 medium-sized, finely chopped: They add to the dense consistency of the masala and bring a subtle tanginess to the minced meat.
- Green chillies: 3 whole, slit: The green chillies help to increase the spiciness of the dish, but they also give it a lovely fragrance.
Ingredients for Rice:
- Basmati rice: 2 cups, soaked. For this pulao recipe, it is best to use a high-quality, long-grained Basmati rice. The fluffy rice will give it an added bite and rich flavour.
- Black peppercorns: 5-6, whole. The peppercorns emit a mouthwatering flavour: don’t worry, they won’t increase the spice level.
- Cloves: 4-5
- Black cardamom pods: 2
- Bay leaf: 1. This unique spice helps to give a very earthy and warm scent to the dish.
- Cinnamon sticks: 2-3, small
- Salt to taste
- Food colour (for garnish): ¼ teaspoon. This is optional, but it makes the rice more colourful and appealing.
How to Make Keema Pulao
Now, let's get down to business! Here are the steps to make this delicious pulao.
Method for Qeema:
- Heat a sturdy pan and add the cooking oil. Heat it up, and then add the finely sliced onions.
- Sauté the onions on medium heat until they turn a rich golden brown. This can take about 10-12 minutes. Patience here is key for achieving the desired flavour.
- Introduce the minced meat to the pan, stirring continuously. Cook until the meat changes colour and loses its pinkness.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and continue to stir, frying for a few minutes until it loses its raw smell and becomes slightly golden.
- Add in the finely chopped tomatoes, salt, red chilli powder, and ½ cup of water to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
- Next, uncover the pan, add green chillies, stir the mixture, and mash the tomatoes while you continue to cook. The masala needs to be cooked until the oil separates from the masala. Once you observe this separation, remove it from the heat. The keema masala is done.
Method For Rice:
Method for boiling rice:
- Wash the Basmati rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes, then drain it.
- In a separate large pot, bring enough water to the boil so that the rice will be well submerged in it. Add the whole black peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and salt to season the water according to your taste.
- Once the water is boiling, add the drained rice and cook until it's about 70-80% done. It should still have a slight bite to it. Drain the rice through a strainer or colander. Be careful! The water is boiling, and the steam emerging from it is equally dangerous.
Assembling the Keema Pulao
Assembling the keema pulao involves making layers of the prepared keema masala and boiled rice. This leads to an even distribution of the keema and rice. So you get a bit of both in every bite!
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, layer the partially cooked rice with the prepared minced meat. This is done by adding a layer of rice, followed by a layer of the keema mixture, and then another layer of rice. Continue this layering process until all the rice and keema are used up.
- Sprinkle the food colour evenly over the top for an appealing presentation.
- Place the pot on “dum,” which is a slow-cooking method. Cover it with a tight-fitting lid and let it cook on very low heat for about 10 minutes. This slow-cooking method allows the flavours to meld and the rice to absorb the flavours of the keema fully and become super fluffy and soft.
Method for Preparing the Chutney:
- To prepare a refreshing chutney to complement the spicy pulao, blend a large tomato, 3-4 green chillies, and half a bunch of fresh coriander leaves with a small amount of water. Adjust the number of chillies based on your preferred level of heat.
How to make Best Keema Pulao
Here are some pro tips to help you make the perfect Keema Pulao:
- Choose Quality Meat: Select the freshest and highest quality minced meat available. It’s crucial for the flavour of the pulao.
- Rinse Rice Thoroughly: Washing the rice until the water runs clear helps remove excess starch and ensures that the grains remain separate and fluffy when cooked.
- Soak the Rice: Don’t skip this step! Soaking the rice for about 30 minutes before cooking helps it absorb moisture evenly and prevents the grains from breaking during cooking.
- Caramelizing the Onions: Take your time to caramelize the onions slowly and evenly. This process helps create a rich, sweet flavour.
- Layering: Pay attention to the layering process. Start with a layer of rice at the bottom, followed by the keema masala, and repeat. This ensures that the flavours are evenly distributed throughout the dish.
- Balancing Spices: Adjust the amount of red chilli powder and green chillies to your taste. You can also add whole spices like cloves and cardamom for an extra layer of flavour.
- “Dum” Cooking: The final slow cooking, or “dum” process, is crucial. Keep the heat very low, and seal the pot tightly to let the flavours meld and for the rice to absorb the flavours of the keema.
- Garnish Gracefully: Garnish your Keema Pulao with care. Fresh herbs, fried onions, and food colour should be evenly sprinkled to create an eye-catching dish. You could also add a few lemon wedges with the rice.
- Presentation Matters: Use an attractive serving platter and ensure that the layers of rice and keema are visible. The visual appeal of the dish is just as important as its taste.
- Serving Chutney: When serving, accompany your keema Pulao with the freshly prepared chutney. It provides a refreshing contrast to the rich and spicy pulao.
- Perfect Timing: Timing is crucial in cooking the rice and keema simultaneously. Make sure both rice and keema are ready to be layered and put on “dum” together so the rice is cooked properly.
How to Serve Keema Pulao
This dish is a complete meal! You can eat it entirely on its own, and it will taste perfect. But, if you want to add an extra something, serve it with the chutney mentioned above or a cooling yoghurt, cucumber and mint raita. You can also add some fresh greens as a salad.
Keema Pulao Final Call
This dish is not only a beloved South Asian dish, but it also has a deep-rooted history. The people of the Subcontinent love keema in all its forms, and this dish is one of the finest ways to eat keema! The layers of the rice and keema give it a beautiful look, and when you take a bite, you will fall in love with its taste!
A rich and spicy rice dish to enjoy on a weekend or serve to your guests. No matter where or how you serve it, it is sure to be a hit!