Keema Pie

Keema Pie Recipe

In Indian cuisine, the name ‘Keema Saag’ can be used to refer to any number of dishes which combine a ground meat (the ‘Keema’), with some form of vegetable greens (the ‘Saag’). Here, the pie you see above is essentially a Keema Saag, cooked with common Indian spices, which is then incorporated into the form of a traditional Shepherd’s Pie. As such, a classic Western ‘comfort food’ is transformed into something novel, and, for most Westerners, just a little bit exotic.

A Keema Pie cut to reveal the filling
A Keema Pie cut to reveal the filling

Here is a Keema Pie with a ‘slice’ removed to reveal the filling. As you can see, the appearance is not far off a traditional Shepherd’s Pie except that greens are visible, whereas in more common renditions, you might see carrots, peas, or even corn.

Ingredient Notes

Leaves from Swiss Chard and Kale
Leaves from Swiss Chard and Kale

The ‘Saag’ in a Keema Saag is very often Spinach (and you can certainly use that here, if you like), but I have chosen to use Swiss Chard and Kale. To use these, you will want to trim away any thick ribs from the leaves blanch them in boiling salted water for a minute or so, the plunge them into cold water to arrest cooking.

Part of the spice component of thew dish uses the dried leaf of Fenugreek (Kasoori Mehti). If you have access to the fresh leaves (Methi), you can use that to replace one, or even both of the other greens. If you do, you will not need to blanch the fresh Fenugreek.

Lamb is traditional in a true Shepherd’s Pie but, these days, ground Beef is much more commonly used and, of course you can use that to if you re not a fan of Lamb or Mutton.

Finally, the Recipe Card below calls for Apple Sauce as an optional ingredient. Adding Apple Sauce to Shepherd’s Pie is something my mother used to do and I always use it myself. Omit it, if you like, but it really works nicely.

The Method

The Spices for Keema Pie
The Spices for Keema Pie

First, grind together the coriander and cumin seeds and mix with the salt, pepper, ground fenugreek and cardamom.  Keep the mustard seed, and celery seed whole along with the dried fenugreek leaf.

Greens chopped after being blanched.
Greens chopped after being blanched.

Remove the tough stems and ribs from the chard and kale. After you have done this, you will need to blanch the greens in boiling salted water for a minute or so, plunge into cold water to cool, and then squeeze dry really well. Next, chop the greens very finely.

The filling for Keema Pie
The filling for Keema Pie

I meant to take a picture here, but the next step is to brown the meat and pour off all but a tablespoon or so of fat, then add the dried, whole and paste spices and cook for a moment longer. Afterwards (as pictured above), let the meat cool slightly then add it to a bowl with the onions. Stir in the flour to mix well, and then incorporate the greens and the applesauce.

Baking a pair of Keema Pies
Baking a pair of Keema Pies

Put the mix in a suitable baking dish or dishes, spread with the mashed potatoes, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. If you like, you can turn up the heat for a last couple of minutes in order to brown the topping slightly.

Your Recipe Card:

Keema Pie Recipe

This Keema Pie Recipe is an East-West fusion dish that combines an Indian classic, Keema Saag, with the traditional Western Shepherd’s Pie.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Fusion, Indian, Western
Keyword: kale, Lamb, Onion, Potato, Spices, Swiss Chard
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground Lamb;
  • 1 bunch each of Swiss Chard and Kale trimmed and blanched;
  • ½ cup chopped Onion;
  • 4 – 6 cups mashed Potato;
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour;
  • 2 tbsp. Coriander Seed;
  • 1 tbsp. Cumin Seed;
  • 1 tsp. Salt;
  • 1 tsp. ground Fenugreek;
  • 1 tsp. ground Black Pepper;
  • ½ tsp. ground Cardamom;
  • 1 tbsp. Mustard Seed;
  • 1 tsp. Celery Seed;
  • 2 Tbsp. dried Fenugreek Leaf Kasoori Methi;
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic Paste;
  • 1 tbsp. Sambal Oelek or other Chili Paste;
  • ¼ cup Applesauce optional;

Instructions

  • Grind together the coriander and cumin seeds along with the salt, pepper, ground fenugreek and cardamom, keeping the mustard seed, celery seed and dried fenugreek leaf whole.
  • After trimming and blanching the green vegetables, squeeze away excess water and then chop finely.
  • Brown the meat, then pour off all but two tablespoons of fat and add in the ground and whole spices, along with the Garlic and Chili Pastes. Cook for a moment or two longer and remove from the heat.
  • Add the Onions to the cooled meat mix and stir in the Flour, followed by the Greens and the Apple Sauce.
  • Put the mix in a suitable baking dish or dishes, spread with the mashed potatoes, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!