One of my favourite South Asian recipes is beef keema. I usually make it with a tomato and onion base (recipe from Kulsoom here). So I was fascinated when I came across a dish in the Salt’n Pepper Village cookbook that didn’t call for tomatoes at all. Instead, the book’s recipe calls for a large amount of yoghurt, which adds acidity and creaminess to the dish.

One of the numerous Pakistani cookbooks I took back from Islamabad this August was the Salt’n Pepper Village cookbook. Pakistani cuisine bloggers frequently lament the lack of Pakistani cookbooks, so I went on a quest to discover some this time (Mr. Books has a surprisingly good collection FYI). One of the most extensive and interesting cookbooks I picked up is the Salt’n Pepper Village cookbook by Mahmood Akbar, the creator of the Salt’n Pepper restaurant empire. It emphasises traditional Pakistani recipes while also including a variety of popular and interesting meals (think chicken tikka alongside green tomato curry).


  •  cup oil canola/sunflower/vegetable
  • 1 large yellow onion thinly sliced in half rings
  • 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste
  • 4 green chilies sliced lengthwise
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 cup yogurt brought to room temperature


  • Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onions and fry on medium-low heat till evenly brown for 10 minutes.
  • Add crushed ginger and garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add green chilies and fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add ground and whole spices and fry for 1 minute. Add a splash of water to deglaze the pan if needed.
  • Increase heat to medium and add ground beef and salt. Fry till no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups water and bring to a simmer. Lower heat, cover and let the beef cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add yogurt and stir continuously on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, place in serving platter and garnish with finely chopped cilantro and chilies.

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