What fascinates me about Grace’s Keema Curry is its main ingredient: a pound and a half of ground beef. Keema means ‘minced’ and Keema is indeed an Indian meat dish but the meat involved is usually goat or mutton, not beef. Beef is hardly an Indian staple. In fact, 24 out of 29 states in India have laws on the books that either prohibit the slaughter or the sale of cows. These laws recognize the Hindu view of the cow as a symbol of wealth, strength, peace, abundance, selfless giving and full of earthly life, in other words: Sacred. But there’s a strange dichotomy at work here. India is counted not only as the 5th largest producer but also the 7th biggest consumer of beef. Some of this can be attributed to Britain’s role in India. Britain’s Raj, which ruled India from 1858 to 1947, were great beef eaters. And before that, during the years that the country was run by The East India Company (1757 – 1858), the first slaughterhouse was constructed in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1760. It had a capacity of 30,000 animals per day. Clearly, a lot of the anti-beef laws were a direct result of the rebellion against British rule as much as they were about religious beliefs. After almost 50 years of Independence, in 1995, the Government went before the Supreme Court to argue that the production of quality meat for export as well as for domestic production ‘encourages scientific and sustainable development of livestock resources’. They even gave government loans for setting up modern slaughter houses. The result: India is the #1 Beef exporter in the world. Here is Grace’s recipe for Keema Beef Curry.
1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the ground meat and cook over high heat, stirring to break up the lumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry powder and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the potato, broth, coconut milk and the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Using the back of a spoon, lightly crush some of the potato. Add the peas and cook just until heated through. Serve in bowls with cilantro, naan and rice.