A flavoursome easy-to-make traditional Keema recipe. Although I have made it vegan, it is easy to substitute soy mince for meat to make totally delicious Keema curry whether you are veggie or not!
Disclaimer : The TVP used for this recipe was gifted by Buy Wholefoods On-Line. However, I received no other payment towards the development of the recipe or towards publication. All content and views expressed are entirely my own. (AD)
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The Inspiration for My Vegan Keema Recipe
Ever considered trying a vegan Keema recipe? Neither had I until I was gifted a huge bag of Textured Vegetable Protein (otherwise known as TVP) from Buy Wholefoods Online. Faced with the question ‘what the heck do I do with this?’ it turns out ‘make Keema’ was the answer.
Actually, it was a logical choice. TVP is the original ‘vegan mince’ and since Veganuary had taken hold at GFHQ, finding a traditional beef mince dish and making it wholly vegetarian, seemed absolutely right. After considering the more ‘obvious’ (and frankly a little boring) options for bolognese, chilli and stuffed peppers, the light bulb switched on. A vegan Keema recipe was on the menu.
What is Keema?
Keema is a traditional Indian curry which is typically made with minced mutton. In the UK however, a keema recipe is more usually made with lamb or beef mince. You will often find it on the menu of Indian restaurants as ‘Keema Matar’, meaning ground meat with peas or ‘Keema Aloo’, which is ground meat with potatoes.
The word ‘Keema’ originates from the Turkish language and literally means ‘minced meat‘, although Keema curry is fundamentally an Indian dish. Made well, with good-quality ingredients and spiced to perfection, Keema is tasty, nutritious and versatile. It is also really quick and easy to make, so is a great choice for a midweek meal.
Although Keema is served as a main curry dish, the basic mix is also often used as the filling for Samosas and Naan breads.
What is Textured Vegetable Protein?
Let’s be honest “Textured Vegetable Protein’ doesn’t really have an appetising ring to it. But this strange-looking dried and granular soy mince product was the veggie-mince trail-blazer of the 60’s. A cheap, high-protein soy product (and by-product of manufacturing soybean oil), it became particularly popular in the 1970’s… Actually, I remember learning how to use it being a curriculum requirement in school cookery lessons.
These days, you can buy TVP (Ad) in many forms… mince, chunks, flakes and organic or not. It is also used to make veggie sausages and burgers. As well as being a meat-replacer, it is considered a meat-extender, particularly in settings requiring the cheap feeding of a lot of hungry mouths… Indeed, predictions indicate that TVP is more than here to stay. With the global textured soy protein market expected to reach USD 3.60 billion by 2025, from USD 1.74 billion in 2017.
Although highly processed, Textured Vegetable Protein is low in calories and carbohydrate, has no fat or cholesterol and is high in protein and fibre. And with the ever increasing call to consider alternatives to meat, it should absolutely not be dismissed.
Hands up though… I confess TVP soya mince is not something I have actually cooked with since the 70’s. I guess meat became cheaper and more accessible, as well as better quality. To be honest (and this may be a little controversial), I wonder whether the British public became a little ‘snobbish’ about using non-meat alternatives. In the current economic as well as ecological climate however, perhaps it is time to reevaluate?!
Why Soya Mince is Great in A Vegan Keema Recipe
Using soya mince in this vegan Keema recipe has been a bit of a revelation. With careful spicing and cooking, it produces a remarkably good and surprisingly ‘meaty’ curry. It makes the traditional Keema curry accessible for a plant-based menu and with a comparable Keema eating experience. Frankly I’m chuffed with the result. Even Mr GF (who has been entirely sceptical at the Veganuary foray) said he liked it and would eat it again. I’ll take that as meaning it was a ‘really tasty meal’!
A word of advice when using TVP however… the reality is that plain TVP has little flavour of its own. Thus, it needs to be rehydrated using stock and cooked into a dish which imports lots of other taste-notes to the table. This Keema recipe is absolutely perfect, because it uses a wealth of spices and flavourings that bring the dish to life. The process of cooking and almost caramelising the onion along with the garlic and spices adds further depth and complexity, allowing the soya protein to become a perfect meat substitute.
Cost for cost, using TVP in this recipe also makes for an incredibly cheap meal. The veggie mince used in this dish was less than £1. A comparable quantity of budget minced beef, even at ALDI would cost more than twice as much.
How to Prepare Soya Mince (TVP) for Cooking
Preparing and cooking soya mince is also straight forward. Although you can just add to the pan when making a dish which contains a lot of liquid, my advice (having tested it) is that it definitely benefits from being rehydrated in advance. Doing so allows control over the quantity you ultimately use for the dish (this stuff seriously grows when wet…). And enables infusion of flavour through the absorption of seasoning in the stock used to rehydrate.
Rules for Rehydration of TVP
Textured Vegetable Protein needs to be rehydrated for 10 minutes before use. Best done in a large bowl or pan (like I said… it grows!), it should be rehydrated using hot stock to ensure flavoursome mince. This is best done just before use. TVP can get a bit ‘pappy’ if rehydrated and left to stand for hours.
The quantity of stock is also important. You want to use the right amount to rehydrate without becoming too ‘spongy’ and so that the TVP does not require draining. For every 170g (⅓ lb/6 oz) TVP (which rehydrates to an equivalent amount of 500g + of meat mince), use 320 ml liquid stock. Once the liquid is added, stir through and leave to sit and absorb. Stir intermittently. Use in place of meat mince as per recipe.
Amount of Liquid to TVP for Rehydration
|85g / 3oz||160 ml|
|170g / 6oz||320 ml|
|255g / 9oz||480 ml|
|340g / 12oz||640 ml|
Can I make this Keema Recipe with Meat?
Although this Keema recipe has been made vegan using Textured Vegetable Protein, if you are a meat eater, it can easily be made using beef or lamb mince. Simply sub the TVP with 500g meat (added to the pan once the onions and spices have caramelised) and fry through until cooked.
But whether you make Keema with TVP or meat… don’t bother with jar mixes. I’ve seen a number of recipes on the internet that use ready-made curry sauces. Don’t compromise by using them. For the amount of time it takes to measure the spices needed, it is worth getting the flavour authenticity right. I used a traditional mix of pungent ground Organic Turmeric Powder (also gifted to me by Buy Wholefoods Online (Ad)), alongside garam masala, cayenne, cinnamon and ginger.
What to Serve with Keema Curry
Keema curry is often used to fill samosas and Naan bread, but is equally served with rice (mine is simply garnished with a little fresh coriander), Indian flat bread, or chapatis. The leftovers at GFHQ went well on top of a somewhat less Indian baked potato. But would also work well with a side of cooked Quinoa.
Although I made this Keema recipe whilst challenging myself to a Veganuary vegan diet, it was so delicious, I am certain that it will be on the menu again, as we try to introduce more plant-based meals to our diet going forward. But if you are gluten free AND Vegan (or thinking of heading that way), be sure to check out my post on Gluten Free Vegan – Surviving Veganuary and Beyond.
Made this Keema Recipe?
As always, if you make this Keema curry recipe (vegan or with meat), I’d love to hear about it. Ping me a comment below, and share your pics on social media. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #glutenfreealchemist and tag me in. I love hearing from you guys… it makes all the work of developing recipes worth it!
Vegan Keema Curry (with Soya TVP)
- measuring jug
- large bowl
- small bowl
- large spoon
- fine grater
- measuring spoons
- sharp vegetable knife
- chopping board
- potato peeler
- large saucepan
- wooden/silicone spoon
- garlic crusher/grater
- lemon squeezer
For the Soya Mince (TVP)
- 170 g soya Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) mince
- 320 ml vegan vegetable stock (made with vegetable stock cube)
All other Keema ingredients
- ½ tsp cayenne/chilli powder
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- 3 tsp turmeric powder
- good pinch ground cinnamon
- 4 cm length fresh ginger peeled & grated
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
- 2 medium potatoes (or 1 large baking potato) peeled & diced
- 400 g chopped tomatoes (equivalent to one tin)
- 1 tsp soft light brown sugar
- salt & pepper to season
- 200 ml boiling water (approx)
- 200 g frozen peas (approx)
- 100 g baby leaf spinach washed (approx very large handful)
- 1 lime juiced
- 50 g fresh coriander leaves rough-chopped
- 100 g dairy free plain yoghurt coconut yoghurt gives the best flavour
Hydration of TVP Soya Mince
- Prepare the vegetable stock according to pack instructions (mixing the stock base with boiling water and dissolving).
- Place the dry TVP mince in a large bowl and add the stock. Stir well and leave to sit and absorb the liquid for 10 minutes, re-stirring intermittently.
- Whilst the TVP is hydrating, prepare your spices and start cooking the curry ; To prepare spices, measure and mix together in a small bowl and add the grated ginger. Set aside.
Cook the Curry
- Chop the onions and crush the garlic. Gently sauté in a large saucepan with the olive oil over a medium heat, stirring frequently until soft.
- Whilst the onion and garlic are frying, peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Set aside.
- When the onions are soft and beginning to brown slightly, add the spice mix to the pan and stir well, allowing to 'fry-off' for a minute or so.
- Add the tomato puree and stir through, continuing to cook for a further minute.
- Add the diced potato, chopped tomatoes, brown sugar and a little salt and pepper to the pan and stir through, before adding some of the boiling water to cover the mixture.
- Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a slow simmer.
- Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the rehydrated soya mince (TVP) and stir through, adding more of the boiling water to the pan if needed.
- Place the lid on the pan and continue to simmer the curry for a further 10 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked but still firm.
- Add the peas and spinach to the pan and stir through, cooking for a further 5 to 6 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt and the peas to heat through.
- Add and stir in the lime juice and about half the coriander.
- Taste the curry and adjust the seasoning with a little more salt and pepper as preferred.
- Serve with the addition of plain dairy free yoghurt and sprinkled with the remaining coriander. Best served with cooked basmati rice.