Keema Pulao
Keema Pulao
5 from 30 votes
Discover the delectable world of Indian cuisine with keema pulao, an indulgent rice dish layered with lamb mince. This enticing recipe blends tradition with simplicity, promising a sensory journey filled with aromatic spices and a fulfilling culinary experience. 
Keema Pulao

How I love the diverse and rich tapestry of Indian cuisine! It’s as if I am traversing through bustling Indian streets, navigating the maze of food stalls with every dish I encounter. Today, it’s all about Keema Pulao, a delightful feast of aromatic rice and succulent lamb mince, a marriage of flavours that keeps you coming back for more. 

Hailing from the Indian subcontinent, Keema Pulao is a beloved dish enjoyed by many. Historically, it’s rooted in the royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire, where chefs took pride in creating an array of elaborate rice dishes.  

This flavourful pulao was a part of those legendary culinary creations. Keema, which translates to minced meat, was often used to give depth and heartiness to rice dishes, creating a balanced, satisfying meal. 

So, where does Keema Pulao lie on the scale of culinary expertise? I’d peg it as an intermediate recipe. It’s not too complicated for those who are comfortable manoeuvring around a spice rack but may pose a challenge for absolute beginners. Fear not, though, because every step is worth the end product. 

The allure of Keema Pulao lies not only in its rich history and mouth-watering flavours but also in its versatility. Be it a festive gathering, a weekend dinner, or a packed lunch for work – it fits seamlessly into any dining context, without losing its distinct character. 

Now, you might be wondering, “What sets Keema Pulao apart from other rice dishes?” To that, I say – it’s the unique combination of spices, the texture of the lamb mince, and the aromatic basmati rice that makes Keema Pulao stand out. 

It is a sensory experience – you see the rich colours, you smell the enticing aroma, you taste the depth of flavours, and you feel the texture of mince against the smoothness of rice. 

So join me on this gastronomical journey as we dive deeper into the world of Keema Pulao. Let’s explore its nuances, unravel its secrets, and learn to recreate this masterpiece in our home kitchens.  

After all, nothing brings people together like good food, and Keema Pulao is just that – good, soulful food that leaves a lasting impression. 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

Embarking on the culinary voyage of making Keema Pulao, it’s essential to understand the role each ingredient plays. The beauty of this dish lies in its components, each contributing its unique essence. Let’s delve into the heart of this recipe, and explore the character of each ingredient. 

Rice: At the heart of our Keema Pulao is the rice. I use Basmati, prized for its aromatic quality and long, slender grains that fluff up perfectly, giving the dish its distinct texture. You could substitute it with other long-grain varieties, but Basmati truly imparts a unique fragrance that is hard to replicate. 

Lamb Mince (Keema): The namesake ingredient, Lamb mince, lends a rich, robust flavour to the Pulao. The mince is cooked to perfection, offering a hearty, meaty counterpart to the fluffy rice. If you’re not a fan of lamb, you can use minced chicken or turkey as an alternative. 

Oil: I prefer using a neutral oil to allow the other flavours to shine. However, you could use ghee (clarified butter) for a richer, more traditional flavour profile. 

Onions: Onions provide a sweet, caramelized base, adding depth to the Pulao. They’re sautéed until golden brown, releasing their natural sugars, which enhance the overall taste. 

Spices: The beauty of Indian cuisine lies in its spice blend. These spices infuse the oil, creating a fragrant base that permeates the entire dish. You can adjust these to your preference, but do remember, each spice adds its unique note. 

Ginger and Garlic Paste: This combination is quintessential to Indian cuisine. They add a certain zing and warmth to the Pulao, acting as the perfect flavour boosters. 

Salt and Crushed Chillies: These bring out the flavours of other ingredients and add a spicy kick. The heat level can be adjusted according to your preference. 

Green Chillies: These not only enhance the spiciness but also add a pop of colour to our dish. However, if you’re sensitive to heat, feel free to omit these. 

Now that we’ve dissected our recipe, it’s clear how each element is crucial in creating the iconic Keema Pulao. A symphony of flavours and textures, this dish is a testament to the balance in Indian cuisine.  

Just remember, as you follow this culinary map to Keema Pulao, don’t hesitate to make your own tweaks. After all, the best dishes have a personal touch. Now, let’s gear up to stir some magic into our kitchens! 

The History Behind Keema Pulao 

Oh, the history of Keema Pulao, it’s as flavourful and layered as the dish itself! It’s like turning the pages of an old, dust-laden book, each chapter revealing intriguing tales. This culinary masterpiece traces its roots back to the regal kitchens of the Mughal Empire, where gastronomy was considered an art form. 

It’s said that the chefs under the Mughal reign were nothing short of alchemists, transforming ordinary ingredients into extraordinary feasts.  

These culinary artists were tasked with the responsibility of pleasing royal palates, which demanded novelty and sophistication. It was under such fervour for culinary excellence that the concept of ‘Pulao’ came into existence. 

‘Pulao’, or ‘Pilaf’ as it’s known in some cultures, is essentially a dish where rice is cooked in a seasoned broth, often accompanied by meat and a melange of spices.  

The idea was to create a complete meal in a single dish – rich, flavourful, and satisfying. Over the centuries, this basic concept was tailored and tweaked, giving birth to a myriad of variations, Keema Pulao being one of them. 

Keema Pulao, with its lush combination of aromatic rice and succulent minced lamb, quickly found its way into the hearts and kitchens of many.  

The dish was a hit among both royals and commoners alike, its popularity transcending the palace walls. Over time, the recipe travelled across borders and cultures, each rendition adding its unique flair, yet staying true to its origins. 

Thus, the history of Keema Pulao is not just about a dish, but a cultural narrative interwoven with culinary innovation and tradition.  

It’s a testament to the power of food in connecting cultures, transcending borders, and creating shared experiences. Every time I prepare Keema Pulao, I can’t help but feel a part of this incredible gastronomic journey. 

Rice Selection for the Perfect Keema Pulao 

Let’s talk about the star of our Keema Pulao – the rice! You see, selecting the right type of rice can make or break your Keema Pulao experience. Yes, it’s that crucial. Among the myriad of rice varieties available, I always reach out for Basmati for my Keema Pulao, and let me tell you why. 

Basmati, a long-grain rice variety native to the Indian subcontinent, is synonymous with fragrance. The word ‘Basmati’ itself means ‘fragrant’ in Hindi, and rightly so.  

This rice, when cooked, releases a unique aroma that’s hard to resist. Its long, slender grains fluff up beautifully without sticking together, giving the Pulao its characteristic texture. 

Now, you may ask, “Can I use any other rice?” Of course, you can! But remember, each rice variety comes with its unique flavour profile and texture. Short-grain varieties tend to be stickier, which may not yield the desired result for a Pulao. 

If you’re unable to find Basmati, you could consider other long-grain varieties like Jasmine or even good-quality long-grain parboiled rice. They might not replicate the exact fragrance of Basmati, but they can come close in terms of texture. 

So, there you have it! My little guide on selecting the perfect rice for your Keema Pulao. Remember, a good Pulao is all about balance – in flavours, in texture, and in aroma. And it all begins with choosing the right rice. 

Decoding Alternatives for Lamb Mince in Keema Pulao 

We all love the sumptuous, robust flavour that lamb mince brings to our beloved Keema Pulao. However, there are times when our palates crave a change, or dietary choices or restrictions make us look for alternatives.  

Fret not, because the versatility of Keema Pulao lies in its adaptability to different types of protein. 

One suitable alternative that comes to my mind is minced chicken. Lighter than lamb, chicken mince offers a milder flavour profile while maintaining the texture essential to Keema Pulao. It absorbs the medley of spices well, making the pulao just as delectable. 

For those preferring a plant-based option, minced soy or even finely chopped mushrooms can work wonders. These alternatives may not mimic the exact taste of lamb, but they certainly can offer a delightful texture and absorb the spices well, ensuring your Keema Pulao is still a flavour-packed feast. 

However, do note that each of these alternatives can slightly alter the cooking times. The chicken cooks faster than lamb, while plant-based alternatives might require less or more time, depending on their nature.  

The key is to ensure whatever substitute you use is cooked well and marries harmoniously with the aromatic rice and spices. 

Using Ghee Instead of Oil in Keema Pulao: A Game-Changer? 

In the world of cooking, fats are flavour carriers. They play a crucial role in a dish, especially something as rich and layered as Keema Pulao. Traditionally, I use neutral oil, which does a commendable job, but let’s talk about a game-changer – Ghee. 

Ghee, or clarified butter, is no stranger to the Indian kitchen. This golden, aromatic fat can elevate the Pulao from delicious to heavenly. It lends a rich, nutty undertone to the dish that oil just can’t replicate. 

Switching to ghee might make your Keema Pulao richer, both in terms of flavour and texture. The spices sautéed in ghee release a more robust flavour profile, and the rice cooked in ghee-enhanced broth has a certain luxurious feel to it. 

But does that mean you should always choose ghee over oil? Well, not necessarily. Both ghee and oil have their unique contributions to make. While ghee offers richness, oil allows the other flavours to shine more prominently. 

In the end, it boils down to personal preference. If you’re all for a rich, indulgent Pulao, ghee could be your best bet. However, if you prefer a balanced, subtle flavour where each ingredient gets its due, sticking to oil might serve you better. 

Remember, cooking is about experimenting. Feel free to interchange between oil and ghee, or perhaps even use a mix of both to create your perfect Keema Pulao. After all, the magic of cooking lies in personalization. 

Adjusting the Spiciness in Your Keema Pulao 

The beauty of a recipe like Keema Pulao lies in its flexibility and the room it provides for individual taste preferences. A question I often come across is how to adjust the spiciness in Keema Pulao. Let me share some tips based on my culinary adventures. 

Firstly, the heat in this dish primarily comes from the crushed chillies and the green chillies. Now, if you want to dial down the spice level, the first tweak would be to reduce the quantity of these ingredients. Remember, it’s easier to add more spice later than to neutralize excessive heat. 

On the other hand, if you’re someone who loves an extra kick, feel free to add more of these fiery agents. Additionally, you can incorporate other hot spices like cayenne pepper or even a dash of hot sauce. Just remember, the aim is to complement and not overpower the flavour of the lamb and the aromatic rice. 

Interestingly, dairy products like yoghurt or cream also help in balancing the spiciness. Serving your Keema Pulao with a side of raita or garnishing it with fresh cream can make it less hot without compromising on the taste. 

Getting the Perfect Texture for Keema Pulao 

Achieving the perfect texture in Keema Pulao is akin to crafting a piece of art. It’s about the fine balance between the fluffy rice grains, the well-cooked minced lamb, and the melding of spices. 

The first step towards this goal is choosing the right rice. I swear by Basmati for its long, slender grains that cook up fluffy and separate. Soaking the rice beforehand helps to get rid of excess starch, preventing it from clumping together during cooking. 

Next comes the lamb mince. Browning the mince correctly is crucial to attaining the right texture and flavour. The trick is to break the mince into smaller pieces while cooking, ensuring it gets evenly cooked and maintains its texture. 

Lastly, the role of heat management cannot be overstressed. Starting with a high heat to cook the rice in the spiced water and then reducing it to a simmer helps to steam the rice to perfection, ensuring each grain is cooked just right. 

Remember, practice makes perfect. With each attempt, you’ll get better at gauging the textures and nailing that perfect Keema Pulao. So, keep experimenting, and don’t forget to enjoy the process! 

The Quest for Vegan Keema Pulao 

Who says the decadence of Keema Pulao is only for non-veg lovers? With a little creativity and a few adjustments, you too can enjoy a hearty, flavourful vegan version of this beloved dish. 

The main challenge, of course, is replacing the lamb mince – the heart and soul of Keema Pulao. One might think it’s impossible to replicate the rich, meaty flavour of lamb, but plant-based alternatives have come a long way.  

A particularly promising option is minced mushrooms. Their meaty texture and umami flavour profile makes them an ideal vegan replacement for lamb mince. 

Alternatively, textured vegetable protein or TVP, especially the soy mince variety, could work. It absorbs the spices well, mimicking the taste and texture of minced lamb quite convincingly. 

All the other ingredients, barring the ghee, are already vegan-friendly. For the fat, simply swap the ghee with a good quality plant-based oil. 

Remember, the essence of Keema Pulao lies in its vibrant flavours and enticing aromas, all of which are achievable in a vegan variant. So, don’t hesitate to experiment and enjoy a delicious, plant-based version of this classic dish. 

The Art of Preparing Keema Pulao in Advance 

Let’s face it – we all have those days when we crave Keema Pulao but just can’t summon the energy to prepare it from scratch. The good news is – Keema Pulao is a dish that can be prepared in advance, with a few tricks to maintain its freshness and taste. 

You can prepare the spiced lamb mince a day or two in advance and store it in the refrigerator. The flavours actually deepen over time, resulting in an even more flavourful Pulao when you finally prepare it. 

When you’re ready to enjoy your meal, simply cook the rice and combine it with the pre-prepared mince, following the standard recipe. Just remember to bring the mince to room temperature before adding the rice to ensure even heating. 

Freezing is also an option if you plan to store the prepared Pulao for longer. Just ensure you reheat it properly before serving, ideally on a stove top to reinvigorate the flavours. 

So, yes, preparing Keema Pulao in advance is doable and practical. This way, you’re always just a few steps away from a delicious, homemade Keema Pulao. 

Pairing Keema Pulao: What Side Dishes to Choose? 

The star of our culinary show today is, of course, the delectable Keema Pulao, but even stars need a good supporting cast. Choosing the right side dishes to complement the robust flavours of Keema Pulao can enhance your dining experience significantly. 

My first recommendation would be refreshing mint raita. This yoghurt-based dish, often mixed with cucumber, herbs, and a touch of spices, offers a cooling counterpoint to the spiced Keema Pulao. Its creamy texture and refreshing taste make it the perfect palate cleanser between bites of the flavourful Pulao. 

A side of salad can also work wonders. A simple salad of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and a dash of lemon can provide a fresh, crunchy contrast to the rich, well-cooked Pulao. 

For spice lovers, a tangy pickle could be a great addition. The pungent, spicy notes of a good mango or lemon pickle can add an exciting dimension to your meal. 

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of a well-roasted papad. Its crispy texture offers a wonderful contrast and its slightly smoky flavour pairs well with the Pulao. 

Storing and Reheating Leftover Keema Pulao 

Having leftover Keema Pulao is a blessing – you get to enjoy the flavoursome dish again. However, proper storage and reheating are crucial to retain its taste and freshness. 

Store the leftover Pulao in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep well for about 2-3 days. If you need to store it for a longer period, freezing is a great option. Just portion out the Pulao into freezer-safe containers, and it can last for up to a month 

When it comes to reheating, the stovetop method works best. It allows the Pulao to heat evenly and helps in rejuvenating the flavours. If the Pulao appears a bit dry, sprinkle some water before heating. 

For frozen Pulao, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Microwaving is also an option for quick reheating, but remember to stir midway to ensure even heating. 

Always ensure that the Pulao is heated thoroughly before serving. And remember, it’s advisable to reheat only the amount you plan to eat to maintain the quality of the Pulao. 

Check out These Other Recipes 

If you found yourself salivating at the sight of Keema Pulao, then you’re in for a treat. There are other culinary delights just waiting for you to explore, each with its own tantalizing flavours and irresistible aromas, deeply rooted in the Indian culinary tradition. 

For instance, take the Mutton Pulao. I found myself being enveloped in the richness of the mutton, harmoniously balanced with the subtle flavours of the fragrant rice. And the tender pieces of meat? Melt in your mouth goodness! 

Then there’s the Chicken Pulao, a dish I cherish on those cosy nights. The perfectly cooked chicken is delicately infused in the rice, creating an amalgamation of flavours that will have your taste buds dancing with joy. If you are a chicken lover like me, this one is a must-try. 

But if you’re craving something slightly different yet still in sync with the theme, allow me to recommend the Aloo Pulao. The humble potato is elevated to extraordinary heights in this dish, with each grain of rice encapsulating the earthy flavours of the potato, making it a comforting meal on its own. 

For something on the side, how about the Mint Raita? I found that it cools the palate after a flavourful meal, yet it holds its own with a refreshing tang and a hint of mint. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any pulao. 

Lastly, let’s not forget the Keema Karahi. Every mouthful is a journey into the heart of Indian cuisine, filled with a melody of spices and the savoury notes of minced meat. 

I invite you to try these recipes and experience these sensations for yourself. Remember, cooking is an adventure, and these dishes are your map. And when you’ve tried them out, don’t forget to drop a comment sharing your thoughts. We love hearing from fellow culinary explorers like you! 

Keema Pulao

Keema Pulao

by Nabeela Kauser
Discover the delectable world of Indian cuisine with keema pulao, an indulgent rice dish layered with lamb mince. This enticing recipe blends tradition with simplicity, promising a sensory journey filled with aromatic spices and a fulfilling culinary experience. 
5 from 30 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Soaking Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6
Calories 511 kcal


  • 300 g Rice
  • 500 g Minced Meat Lamb
  • 50 ml Oil
  • 1 Onions
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds Jeera
  • 1 tsp Peppercorn
  • 8 Cloves
  • 3 Black Cardamom Bari Elaichi
  • 2 Bay Leaf
  • 2 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 2 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Crushed Chillies
  • 2 Green Chillies
  • 700 ml Water


  • Wash the rice until the water runs clear then soak in the water for at least 30 minutes
  • In a pan heat up the oil and then add the whole spices and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant
  • Add the finely sliced onions and brown for 6-8 minutes
  • Then add 1 tablespoon of water and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until the colour is released from the onions
  • Add the ginger and garlic paste then cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the lamb mince and cook for 5 minutes until the mince browns, be sure to stir continuously until there are no lumps
  • Add the salt and crushed chillies then cook for 8-10 minutes
  • Add the water and green chillies then bring to a gentle boil
  • Add the rice and cook for 6-8 minutes on high heat until 80% of the water dries up
  • Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low heat
  • Serve with a side of raita and enjoy!



Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 511kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 18gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 504mgPotassium: 318mgFibre: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 114IUVitamin C: 4mgVitamin D: 0.1µgCalcium: 55mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Cooking, Food, Keema, Lamb, Minced Meat, Pilau, Recipe, Rice
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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1 year ago

5 stars

Shaherose Lalji
Shaherose Lalji
1 year ago

5 stars
You have forgotten to add rice in the written instructions after No. 8.

1 year ago

5 stars
I would like to try this but i wanted to add potatoes…how do you recommend i do that if possible?


Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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