Paleo Palak Keema
Some of my favorite recipes are one-pot recipes. Or, as I like to call them, food piles. I think it comes from the fact that, much like a toddler, I do best when eating my food from a bowl with a spoon.
Keema is one of my favorite food piles and I grew up eating it at least once a month. It was something my dad made in huge batches in a pressure cooker on weekends. This is just a greener, vegetable-ier version of this simple Indian comfort food (it's like a ground beef/lamb curry). I make this version with spinach (i.e. palak) pretty often just to get extra greens into the bowl, so I thought it deserved its own post. Also, I wanted this recipe to be 100% paleo for y'all and a little quicker than my original keema recipe, so I've left out the traditional peas and potatoes.
Also, a little note about salt. We're grown-ups and we should really know how to season our food properly—this happens best in layers.
Occasionally there'll be something (like meatballs, for example) where you sort of have to just throw in a teaspoon of salt at once and call it a day. But for the most part, salting throughout the process because makes it harder to over or under-do it.
What I mean by that is that every time I'm adding a major ingredient, I'll sprinkle the amount of salt with which I'd normally season that ingredient. In this recipe, I'll add some salt when I'm caramelizing the onions, some when I'm browning the ground beef, some when I add the tomatoes and some when I add the spinach. I've estimated it to be about 1 tsp total, but it's spread out across the whole cooking process.
paleo, gluten-free and Whole30-approved | based on my Keema recipe | serves 4+
- 2 medium yellow onions, minced
- ghee or olive oil for frying
- 1 T jalapeño, seeded and minced (approximately one medium pepper)
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 T fresh ginger, minced (or sub 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
- 1 T garam masala
- 1.25 tsp cumin
- 1.25 tsp coriander
- 2.5 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 lb. ground beef or lamb
- 1/2 tsp pepper, to taste
- about 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
- juice of one lemon
- about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro to garnish
- 1 lb frozen chopped spinach
- Using a big pan or Dutch oven (or pressure cooker, if you are my dad), fry onions in ghee or oil on medium high heat, stirring frequently until they start to caramelize. Sprinkle with salt. Be patient — this can take a little while but it really sets the groundwork for all the layers of flavor.
- Clear a little space in the pan, add a little more ghee or oil to that spot if the pan is dry. Throw in the jalapeño, ginger and garlic there and fry for a minute or two until fragrant.
- Add the garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon into the pan and stir to coat everything quickly. This will be a pretty dry mixture now and that's normal.
- Add the ground meat to the pot, and brown thoroughly. If you have very lean meat, you may want to add a little extra ghee. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the diced tomatoes, a little more salt and cover. Simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the lemon juice, spinach and half of the cilantro. Cook for another couple of minutes until the spinach is hot. It doesn't take long!
- Top with the remaining fresh cilantro right before serving.
- SAMOSA CHAATDISH. This is a thing I invented with Palak Keema that is outrageously delicious.
- You can substitute canned tomatoes for fresh if you like.
- This has a lot of spice but it's not spicy. If you like your keema hot, you could substitute a couple of serrano peppers for the jalapeño or add some cayenne pepper to taste.
- I make keema often so I started prepping a keema masala (i.e. spice mix). That way, I don't need to pull out multiple jars every time I cook it.
- Eat with roasted curry cauliflower or cauliflower rice.
This recipe was originally published in 2014 but was updated in 2018 with new photos.