Keema pulao, also popular as keema rice or keema biryani, is a delightful and aromatic one-pot meal that combines succulent minced meat with fragrant basmati rice. This flavorful gluten-free rice dish is perfect for a weeknight dinner with cooling raita and salad.
This dish is very flavorful, with the juices of the minced meat cooking the rice. You can taste the flavors of minced meat, aromatic spices, and perfectly cooked fluffy rice in each bite.
You can call this dish Keema Biryani, Keema Rice, Qeema Chawal, or Kheema Pulao. Typically, biryani has heavier whole and ground spices with bolder flavors. So my version is more close to a keema rice or pulao.
Call it anything, but I promise you will fall in love with it just as much as my keema curry.
What is Keema Pulao?
Keema pulao is a flavorful Indian and Pakistani rice dish that has minced meat (mutton, lamb, beef, chicken, or turkey) cooked with aromatic spices and tender basmati rice.
“Keema” or “Kheema” is an Urdu word that refers to finely minced meat, while “pulao” signifies a rice dish cooked with meat, vegetables, or both. It is often enjoyed as a main course and is famous for its rich flavors and delightful textures.
- Minced Meat / Keema: I used ground mutton (goat meat). But you can use any ground meat such as chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef in this recipe.
- Basmati rice: It serves as the foundation of the pulao, providing a light and fluffy texture to complement the flavorful meat.
- Ghee or oil: You can choose either ghee, which adds a rich buttery flavor, or oil for a lighter touch. I prefer to use ghee when making this keema rice.
- Whole Spices: You’ll need bay leaf, cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, cloves, and cumin seeds.
- Onions: Bring a sweet and caramelized taste to the pulao. I like to use yellow onions when making pulao and biryani dishes.
- Ginger: Adds a subtle spiciness and warmth to the pulao. I prefer freshly grated ginger, but you can also use ginger paste.
- Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic or garlic paste in this keema rice.
- Spices: You’ll need turmeric, coriander powder, ground cumin, red chili powder, salt, and garam masala.
- Tomato: It adds moisture and helps create a well-balanced flavor profile.
- Mint leaves: They add freshness and a pleasant herbal note to the dish.
- Lime: It brightens the flavors and adds a zingy element to each bite.
- Cilantro leaves (for garnish): They add a final touch of freshness and enhance the dish’s visual appeal.
How to Make Keema Pulao (Stovetop version)
- Wash the basmati rice until the water runs clear, then soak it in water for at least 30 minutes. Drain the water before using.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil or ghee in a pan and add the whole spices. Sauté for a minute until they become fragrant.
- Add the finely sliced onions and cook them until they turn golden brown. Set aside half of the onions for later use.
- Then, add the grated ginger and minced garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.
- Now add the minced meat and cook while stirring continuously until it browns and there are no lumps.
- Now, it’s time to add the spices! Add the ground turmeric, coriander powder, ground cumin, Kashmiri red chili powder, salt, and garam masala. Stir well.
- Toss in the green chili and chopped mint leaves. Give it a good stir.
- Add the diced tomatoes, stir, and cook for a minute.
- Pour in the water and add the soaked basmati rice. Mix everything well and bring it to a boil.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook on medium-low heat until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked perfectly.
- Finally, top the keema pulao with the fried onions you set aside earlier. Squeeze the lime juice over the dish and garnish it with fresh cilantro leaves.
Serve the keema pulao hot with a side of raita (yogurt-based condiment), and savor the delightful flavors!
How to Make Keema Rice in the Instant Pot?
When making this Keema Rice in the instant pot, the main difference is pressure cooking the pulao instead of covering it with a lid and simmering until the rice is cooked. The initial steps until adding the rice to the pan remain the same.
I suggest to pressure cook for 4 minutes with a 10-minute natural pressure release. Once you open the instant pot, fluff the rice gently with a fork.
- Wash the rice: Don’t skip the step of washing and soaking the rice. This helps to clean it and remove extra starch.
- Add veggies: You can add veggies such as carrots or green peas to this keema rice pilaf if you like. Add them along with the rice, and they will cook perfectly.
- Make it like a biryani: I like to add some nuts and raisins to the keema pulao to add some extra richness, just like a keema biryani.
Serving and Storing
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat it gently in the microwave or stovetop, adding a water splash to retain its moisture and flavors.
More Rice Recipes
- Beetroot Rice Pulao
- Instant Pot Spanish Rice (Mexican Rice)
- Mushroom Brown Rice Pilaf
- Mujadara (Middle Eastern Lentils & Rice)
- Spinach Rice
Keema Rice (One-pot Keema Biryani)
- Wash the rice until the water runs clear then soak in the water for at least 30 minutes. Drain water before using.
- In a pan, heat the ghee/oil and then add the whole spices. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
- Add the finely sliced onions and brown for 6-8 minutes. Make sure the onions are golden brown. Take 1/2 of the onions out and set aside.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste then cook for another minute.
- Add the minced meat and cook for 5 minutes until the mince browns, be sure to stir continuously until there are no lumps
- Add the spices, green chili and mint leaves. Give it a stir.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and cook for a minute.
- Add water and rice. Mix well and bring to a boil.
- Then cover and cook for 15 minutes on medium-low heat or until water is soaked and rice are cooked well. Remove lid and take off heat.
- Top with fried onions kept aside. Add the lime juice and garnish with cilantro. Serve with a side of raita and enjoy!
Instant Pot Method
- Follow the same steps as above until adding the rice and water in the instant pot. Then pressure cook for 4 minutes, followed by a 10-minute natural pressure release, which means release pressure 10 minutes after the instant pot beeps. Open the instant pot and remove the lid. Fluff the keema rice gently with a fork. Follow the steps to add the lime juice and fried onions kept aside. Ganish with cilantro and enjoy!