This is one of my all-time favorite dishes. We ate a lot of khima matar growing up, and I remember both my grandmother and my mom making it. It’s nourishing, comforting, deeply satisfying, and I often crave it when I’m feeling rundown. The sweetness of the green peas pairs nicely with the rich, full bodied flavor of the spiced beef in such a perfect way that not only do Ben and I love it, but both of my little guys gobble this up (especially my 14 month old!). I usually serve this with my spiced jasmine rice for Ben and the boys, and then toss some steamed sweet potatoes in coconut oil for myself, to keep my meal paleo. I know that peas are controversial in the paleo world, but they seem to work well for me if eaten in moderation. Feel free to omit the peas if you don’t care for them- this curry is still absolutely delicious without them.
2 tbsp unrefined virgin coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion finely diced (a little more than 1 cup, packed)
1 pound grass fed ground beef
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
4 Roma tomatoes
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, or 4 smaller ones, peeled
1 1/2 tsp sea salt, more or less to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Place the onions in the pot with a pinch of salt and saute them until they are golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent burning. This is the most time consuming step of this recipe (it takes me about 15-20 minutes), but it’s well worth the effort. I think of browning the onions as creating the foundation for your curry. It lends a depth and sweetness to the dish that you will definitely miss if you skip this step.
While your onions are cooking, puree the tomatoes, ginger, and garlic in a food processor or blender, and set aside. I use a blender to do this, and my puree comes to almost exactly 2.5 cups.
Next, add the ground beef to your browned onions, crumble the beef with a wooden spoon, then stir in the cumin and turmeric. Reduce the heat to medium-low to ensure that the spices don’t burn, and cook the beef until it is no longer pink.
Add the pureed tomato mix to your beef mixture, along with the frozen peas, garam masala, and salt. Mix well, then cover your pot and allow everything to simmer for 30 minutes or more on the lowest setting. The longer it has to simmer, the better the flavors will meld.
Check for salt just before serving. If you don’t taste the spices, you probably need more salt. Stir in some fresh lemon juice and as much chopped cilantro as you’d like. Serve your peas and beef curry with spiced jasmine rice, or steamed sweet potatoes. A side of ripe avocado pairs nicely with this dish as well. We rarely have leftovers after eating this for dinner, but when we do, it’s even tastier the next day.
On a side note…
These are some Molokai sweet potatoes that I picked up at my neighborhood farmers market. I had never tried this variety before, but I steamed them and loved their vibrant color after cooking. Molokai sweet potatoes are indeed sweet, and have a subtle, almost floral flavor along with a dense texture that makes them super satisfying to eat.
I want to know about the special finds at YOUR local farmers markets. What’s currently in season in your part of the world that you’re enjoying right now?