Food + Wine

Lamb and Parsnip Keema over Coconut Farro

Lots of different words up there.  Lots of super delicious, different words up there.  But before I get in deeper about them (not too deep, I’m busy as HAIL today), let me remind you that I am a little white girl from North Carolina.  I am not from India, or Pakistan, or Turkey or any other part of the world where it is believed this dish originated.  But I am a good cook and made something delicious in my little American kitchen that I would love to share with you all.

Keema is more or less what we would consider a chili here in the states.  It consists of ground meat (traditionally mutton or lamb) and other vegetables such as peas, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots… and is spiced with things like ginger, cumin, garam masala… its details differ depending on who you ask (as does chili) and it’s amazing.  And although it sounds complicated, it isn’t.  If you can make chili or browned ground meat for, say, burritos, you can make this.  You’re only adding some veggies and swapping out the spices.

I chose to eliminate the tomatoes and potatoes, add some parsnips and add some minced dates to mine, making it this lovely combination of savory and spicy and tangy and slightly sweet.  It’s just everything you want in a meal.

Traditionally you’d find keema served with a flatbread, and you’d wrap it up and eat it with your hands, but I chose to serve it over coconut farro instead, making it more of a stew for my family’s dinner this evening before I headed back out the door again.

My life has been a little nutty lately.  I’ve been really busy and extra tired, but it’s all for a good reason.  And with the snow days we’ve been having lately, I cherished the extra time I got to spend with my babies while they were home from school this week.

Today we were out all day.  I just spoiled them with a day full of mommy and the occasional cheap, plastic thing.

Then I came home and got right to work on dinner (that I was ‘brain cooking’ while watching my kids (and some sugar) run laps around the grocery store today).  Because, like I’ve said a million times before, family dinners at home are the most important to-do item on my list.  So no matter how insane my life gets, I can’t let that one go.

And I’m especially glad I didn’t tonight.  Because, it was a fantastic family meal.  In true nutty life fashion, we ate it around the dining room table, laughing hysterically in between bites, with the sound of the Blue Cross Blue Shield hold music from my husband’s phone, as he’d been on hold with them (again) for 2 hours.  We all made up our own words to the tune.  We’re working on releasing it soon.

But until we break into hold-music fame, we’re content just the way we are-

Happily fed and in delicious love.



serves 6

In an extra large skillet, (mine is 14 1/2 inches wide… if you don’t have one that big, please split this up into two (slightly) smaller skillets), with a little light vegetable/canola oil, on medium heat add…

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

Toast these in the oil until you can smell them.  Then add…

  • 1 large white onion (those softball sized guys) or 2 medium white/yellow onions, diced

Toss the onions with the toasted cumin seeds and the oil.  Season with…

  • a couple fat pinches of kosher salt

Stir well, and allow the spices to ‘toast’ with the onion.  Add in…

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 extra large parsnip, or 2 medium, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 – 1 serano or jalapeno pepper (depending on your heat desire…and remove the ribs and seeds if you want it milder)

Season the veg with more salt.  Toss all together and scoot them to the side of the pan to make room for the meat.  Bump the heat up to medium-high.

Add in…

  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef (because the lamb is fatty enough)
  • 1 lb ground lamb

Season the meat with…

  • big, fat pinches of kosher salt
  • 1 TB garam masala (see HERE for my recipe)
  • 1 TB yellow curry powder (see HERE for my recipe)
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Allow the meat to brown.  Do not start stirring it… let it crisp up on the bottom a bit before breaking it up with a spatula and working on the other side.  It will take some time to get it completely broken down and golden brown and crispy, but it’s needed.

Mind the veggies on the other end of the pan while you’re working the meat.  Just toss them every so often to make sure they don’t burn.

Once you’ve gotten good caramelization on your meat pieces, toss it with the veggies and continue to cook and brown.

Add in…

  • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced (or use a microplane to grate them both into the pan)
  • 6-7 deglet noor dates, finely chopped (this is roughly 1/4 cup)
  • a few splashes of apple cider vinegar

Stir well to combine.  And scrape up the bottom of the pan after you’ve added the vinegar.  That’s flavor down there and you want it loosened up and in your dish.  Add more splashes if need be.

Add in…

  • 1 (12 oz) bag of frozen peas

Stir well to reheat the peas.

Squeeze in…

  • the juice of 1 lime (if you’re making this alongside the coconut farro, zest it first for that before juicing it here)

Taste to check your seasoning, adjusting any spices or salt or acid if necessary.

Serve hot over Coconut Farro (recipe below) and greek yogurt (optional…or sour cream) and fresh cilantro

. coconut farro .

I follow the same exact method for this coconut farro as I do my Coconut Barley and Coconut Rice… it’s a great, simple recipe that can be switched up depending on the grain you choose.

In a medium saucepan, add the following…

  • 2 cups farro
  • 2 inch piece of ginger root
  • the zest of 2 limes (you’ll use the juice later)
  • a couple fat pinches of kosher salt
  • 2 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk

Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, until the farro has soaked up all the liquid, checking to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Squeeze some lime juice in and serve hot under your keema.

Enjoy!! XOX







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  • Reply cary January 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    this stuff is awesome!

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