SAVOURY MINCE SAVES THE DAY.

Sometimes you just need to stay home and cook savoury mince. Here’s my current fave, a quick and easy kheema mattar.

I once pitched my editor the idea of doing a cover story on 101 Ways With Mince, in homage to a little book my mother used to keep in her recipe drawer. My editor didn’t see the magic.

Which is probably just as well, as I only had 12 recipes, with 89 to go.

But minced meat dishes hold a magnetic attraction for many of us, as comfort food from our childhoods or something learned in our travels.

It could be the hachis parmentier of a little bistro in Paris, the fiery larb of a Bangkok market stall, the minchet abish of Ethiopia or good old spaghetti Bolognese made with minced (ground) meat instead of with the traditional chunkier pieces of meat.

It could be chile con carne from the south-west USA, Chengdu’s compellingly spicy mapo dofu, or the savoury mince on toast of ye olde England, in which the most exotic ingredient is Worcestershire sauce. (Actually, it’s probably more Scottish than English, seeing as how ‘mince and tatties’ are part of every Scottish grandmother’s repertoire, including my own).

But let’s not mince words, let’s mince meat instead.

  • If you’d like to make hachis parmentier, here’s the recipe on Good Food.

  • If you’d like to make savoury mince on toast, just follow the same recipe as for hachis parmentier, and serve on toast instead of topping with mashed potato.

  • If you’d like to update your savoury mince with more flavour and richness, build it on a generous bed of onions or leeks, carrots and celery, and make it with good red wine. Consider adding a slug of soy sauce, Vegemite or doubanjiang chilli bean paste for extra ooh-mami.

Or just make this quick and easy kheema mattar, below. Kheema = mince, mattar = peas. It’s traditionally made with mutton or lamb (or goat), but I’ve just made it with beef and it was fab.

A Punjabi staple, it’s popular right across Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – oh, and the world. It’s also good with potato, but then, most things are.

KHEEMA MATTAR

Serves 4

Serve with yoghurt or raita, and steamed basmati rice, or roti or naan, or even with soft dinner rolls ( pav).

3 tbsp sunflower oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 tbsp grated ginger

500 g minced lamb or beef (not too finely minced)

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

3 green cardamom pods, bruised

1 tsp turmeric

1 green chilli, chopped

half tsp roasted dried chilli powder

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

150 g frozen peas

250 ml light stock or water

3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Yoghurt or raita and fresh lime for serving

  1. Heat the oil and cook the onion until soft, about 10 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.

  3. Add the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and fry until browned.

  4. Add the tomato paste, garam masala, coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, chilli, chilli powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper, stirring well.

  5. Add 250 ml stock or water and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the peas (still frozen) and simmer for 2 minutes until cooked.

  6. Scatter with coriander and serve with lime wedges and yoghurt or raita for adding.

Tip: Some recipes call for a souring agent such as vinegar, tamarind or amchoor (dried green mango). I just serve with limes for squeezing.

QUICK RAITA: Peel and dice a cucumber, toss with 1 tsp salt and leave for 15 minutes, then squeeze out all the liquid that has gathered. In a bowl, whisk one cup of yoghurt with 1 tsp ground cumin, a little minced green chilli, and some chopped coriander or mint. Add the cucumber, tossing well, and chill until needed.

MORE, YOU WANT MORE? I probs shouldn’t be anyone’s first source on Indian cooking, as much as I love riffing on it in the kitchen. For more, go to some of the great Indian cooks and food writers from whom I’ve learnt. There’s a pretty good list here, provided by Curry Kitchen (thanks).


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I would like to acknowledge that I live, work and play on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and wish to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I fully support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to be enshrined in Australia’s Constitution.