Vegan Keema Madras with lentils. Keema is usually a minced meat dish made with combination of spices to add a complex flavor. This Keema uses red lentils. Serve this with flatbread, rice or with dosa, appam. Vegan Gluten-free Soy-free Recipe Nut-free Option Jump to Recipe
Here is another ridiculously delicious Indian meal. Indian Keema is a minced meat dish with various meats used depending on the region. North Indian Keema is cooked with spices and served with thick flatbreads. This South Indian Keema uses whole spices, poppy seeds, fennel seeds and coconut for a fantastic flavor base.
The red lentils and potatoes are cooked to al dente. The spices are ground and roasted in a bit of oil, then the onion and garlic are added and cooked with the spices. The pureed tomato is then added and simmered until the sauce thickens. Then the cooked lentils are mixed in. By mixing the lentils later, the spices and the sauce get time and surface area to roast well and develop flavor. If you add lentils before the sauce has cooked, or along with the tomato to cook, the overall flavor suffers as the extra volume hinders the roasting. You can use other cooked lentils or beans and veggies of choice in this delicious sauce.
As I always mention with the more involved recipes, don’t be intimidated by the spice list, and experiment with the flavor to preference. The flavors meld and get this meaty profile after sitting for a bit like most Indian recipes. Double the recipe and save a batch for the next day. This Keema Madras profile reminds me of the lamb keema being cooked in the neighborhood long ago. This one is All the meaty flavor without any meat. Lets make some!
Ingredients for Keema Madras and substitution options
- Red lentils and potatoes are pre-cooked to al dente. This is done so that the flavor of the spices in the sauce stays concentrated in the sauce. When you cook the lentils in the spices, they absorb a lot of the flavor and it distributes. The flavor will show up after sitting for a few hours, but it isnt as concentrated. The balance of spicy sauce and non spiced textured lentils is much more pleasing.
- Some coarsely crushed walnuts add more meaty texture.
- garlic, onion are the aromatics. To make this without garlic and onion, omit them and add 1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds to the spices.
- tomato puree and some coconut makes the rest of the sauce
- carrots add a slight sweet balance. You can use other veggies or omit.
- Whole Spices: whole black peppercorns, fennel seeds, and poppy seeds add amazing flavor
- Ground spices: ground coriander, ground cumin, sage, ground cinnamon add the meaty flavor
- Raw rice is added for texture and adds grittyness to the spice mixture allowing it to roast evenly without easily burning. You can omit it if you like.
- Salt brings out the flavors in the sauce.
- Nut-free: Omit the walnuts.
How to make Keema Madras
Add garlic, cook for a few seconds. (You can also add 6 curry leaves at this point). Add onion and good pinch of salt and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes with coconut and a few tbsp of water until smooth.
More Indian Dishes to try
- Butter Tofu GF
- IP Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce , with Cauliflower. GF
- Tofu Amritsari Masala.GF
- Instant Pot Vegan Butter Chickin(soycurls). GF – Creamy, Delicious
- Mushroom Matar Masala GF
- Bombay Potato and Peas GF
- Tofu in Spinach Curry – Palak Tofu GF
Yum brown food!
If you make the recipe, do let me know in the comments how you liked it. Also do rate the recipe using the star rating above the comment box!
Vegan Keema Madras with lentils
- 1/3 cup (60 g) red lentils (masoor dal)
- 3/4 cup (157.5 g) cubed potatoes , small cubes
- 1/2 tsp pepper corns or freshly ground , use 1 tsp for the real deal
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon or 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 3/4 - 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
- 1 tsp raw rice (optional), or use rice flour
- 1/2 tsp sage
- 2 tsp oil
- 3 cloves of garlic , finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (80 g) finely chopped onion
- 2 medium tomatoes , or 11 oz diced
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup (39 g) coarsely crushed walnuts
- 1/3 cup (42.67 g) shredded carrots ,optional
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Cilantro, pepper flakes, lime juice for garnish
- Lentils + Potatoes: Add red lentils, potatoes, and 2 cups water in a saucepan. Cook uncovered over medium heat until potatoes are tender. 13-14 mins. Add in a good pinch of salt mid way. Do not drain.
- Spices: Grind the the spices in a grinder or blender. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spices and toast for 2-3 mins. If the pan is heating too quickly, roast at medium-low heat.
- Add garlic and cook for a few seconds. (You can also add 6 curry leaves at this point if you have some). Add onion and good pinch of salt and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes with coconut and a few tbsp of water until smooth.
- Add the blended tomato coconut mixture and cook over medium until it thickens and oil starts to leave the mixture. 5 to 7 mins. Add the carrots and walnuts and cook for 2 mins.
- Add the cooked lentils and potatoes with the cooking water(it should be about a half cup or so liquid after evaporation during cooking in step 1). Add salt and mix well to combine the spiced mixture and lentils.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 to 7 mins. Taste and adjust salt and flavor.
- Add a dash of lime juice, generous pepper flakes or cayenne, and cilantro and serve with rice, flatbread or dosas. Or add to wraps, tacos.Store: Refrigerate for upto 3 days.