Turkey Keema Matar Curry – Traditions Old and New

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Keema Matar curry is a ground meat and peas curry that’s very popular in South Asia. Traditionally in India, this slow-cooked dish is made with mutton and is served at special occasions. I have reworked the traditional recipe, taken a couple of shortcuts and used my favourite protein, turkey mince.  Make extra and freeze some of this turkey keema matar curry, and you will have two easy meals with the effort of one.

Turkey Keema Matar Recipe | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold

Keema Matar curry can be spotted on Indian restaurant menus around the world. While popular across the South Asian sub-continent, you can trace this dish’s roots back to the Mughal empire courts to a time when they ruled India. “Keema” literally means ground meat and “matar” is peas. My mom veers from tradition and adds potatoes right at the very end, and garnishes with red onions, so of course, that’s what I do!

Disclaimer: I have been compensated by Canadian Turkey as part of their #TryTurkeyToday campaign to share with you my fondness for this very Canadian ingredient. As always the narrative and opinion is mine.

India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold

Healthy Protein

I love reworking traditional Indian recipes to make them easier to recreate in my Canadian kitchen. The shortcuts I take though never compromise on flavour, and often use Canadian ingredients. That’s what I have done here – Keema matar curry made with the goodness of Canadian turkey. As a result this delicious dish has all the goodness and warmth of Indian spices and is way more nutritious than the traditional version.

Turkey is a great protein. It is versatile, easy to cook with and above all, it really shines with the robust flavours that this curry dish is famous for. There is another reason that I often choose turkey – it is a naturally leaner but still juicy meat. In this recipe, I have used only white meat. You can ask your butcher for other cuts and tweak the recipe to your family’s preference. 

Keema Matar Curry | India-style Ground Turkey recipe | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold

Keema Matar for all its complexity of flavour is remarkably easy to make. Like all of my other recipes, this one is forgiving and you can tailor it to your family’s tolerance to heat.  My youngest kiddo and my dear hubby prefer a low level of heat and that’s what this is. 

Turkey Keema Matar Recipe

Turkey Keema Matar Recipe | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold

Tips from my Kitchen

  • I often replace tomatoes with red pepper paste. Allergies! The quantity of the ingredient remains the same.
  • Salt the dish at various stages and the flavour is better.
  • I use whole and ground spices in my cooking. Both have a different role to play. Whole spices flavour the oil at the beginning and give a subtle flavour. In contrast, we add ground spices after the tomatoes. They add more heat and hit your taste buds first.
  • Slice the potatoes on the side, par-boiled them and then quickly saute in a pan.
  • This recipe freezes very well. Transform the leftovers into this delicious make-ahead appetizer. Turkey Keema pao – sloppy joes with an Indian flair. 
Turkey Curry | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold
Red pepper paste instead of tomato
  • Instruction Nbr 7 is what separates curries from the stews. Cooking tomatoes, spices along with onions, ginger and garlic forms basic curry masala. The ingredients come together and caramelize a little without browning. That’s when the oil forms an outline around the curry masala.
Ground Turkey Indian Recipe | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold
Note the little flecks of oil amongst the onion masala
Turkey Keema Matar Recipe | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold

Turkey Keema Matar Curry Recipe

Print Recipe
Keema Matar is a South Asian curry that is traditionally made with ground meat and peas. My recipe takes a few shortcuts, and I use my favourite protein of choice, Canadian Turkey. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Keema Matar Recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6
Author Puneeta

Ingredients

Whole Spices

  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 2 in Cinnamon
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 Black Cardamoms

Ground Spices

  • 2 tsp Coriander seed
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper optional
  • 1/4 tsp Red Chilli optional
  • 1 cup Green Peas

Other Ingredients

  • 1 lb Minced Turkey Meat
  • 2 tsp Green Chillies (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Ginger (chopped)
  • 4 Garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 cup Red Onions (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Tomato paste or 1/2 cup tomato sauce I use red pepper paste instead
  • 1 cup Water
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Add oil to your pot and turn the heat to medium.
    Add the whole spices. 
    Sauté for a few minutes.
    Turkey Keema Matar Recipe | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold
  • Turn heat to above medium.
  • Add chopped ginger and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes till there is some colour to the garlic.
    Turkey Keema Matar Recipe | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold
  • Add green chillies and sauté some more 
  • Add chopped onions and toss and cook for 3-4 mins till the onions and soft and are pale brown
    Turkey Keema Matar Recipe | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold
  • Add tomato paste – or in my case red pepper paste.
  • Cook for 10-15 mins till the mixture comes together and oil is released from the mixture.
    Turkey Keema Matar Recipe | India-style Ground Turkey with peas | Festive Meals | Delicious Dinners | Maple and Marigold
  • Add the turkey mince to the onion mixture. Toss and coat and sauté.
  • Add the black pepper, salt and red chilli powder (optional).
  • Toss the ground turkey and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add peas and a cup of water
  • Turn to high for a minute, toss and deglaze the pan. 
  • Turn the heat to just below medium. Put the lid on and walk away. 
  • Serve warm with naan or rice alongside sliced sauteed potatoes and onions.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma<br/><small>Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker</small>
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker

About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

7 Comments

  • 5 stars
    There was no mention of removing the 2 bay leaves, cinnamon and cardomoms. Do they stay in?

    Reply
    • They add a lot of flavour in the cooking but are a little woody. I usually take them out just as I am serving guests. For a family dinner though – leave them in and the kids learn to dodge the pieces 🙂

      Reply
  • I so enjoyed reading this simple but flavourful recipe and know I can easily buy all the ingredients, which for me is Montréal. I had just bought some turkey mince – at a Portuguese shop that has quality meat and many other things at a good price, but while we don’t have as many South Asians as Toronto, there is a neighbourhood just west of mine called Parc-Extension where there are people, shops and restaurants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and perhaps others.

    Is the red pepper paste the Portuguese type? I’ve been using that recently as I find tomatoes too acid now.

    I’m so happy to be able to get fresh organic turmeric and ginger nearby.

    Reply
    • You could totally try the Portuguese red pepper paste. I often switch out tomato for red pepper paste for health reasons too. Less ingredients and flavourings the better if you’re buying a new product.

      Reply
    • I’m so glad you tried this recipe, Rahul, and that you liked it 🙂 Thanks, Puneeta

      Reply
  • 4 stars
    Very good recipe, but I don’t see where to add the GROUND spices.

    Reply

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