Keema Curry for Keeps

To define shiitake as a Japanese ingredient would be correct, but also incredibly shortsighted. Umami transcends all cuisines and cultural boundaries, whether it’s added in the form of aged cheeses, seaweed, soy sauce, tomatoes, kimchi, green tea, and beyond. Shiitake can amplify those essential ingredients, harmonizing and accentuating their inherently rich flavors. What sets Sugimoto Shiitake apart from other umami powerhouses is the clarity and quality of savory depth, in addition to its uniquely meaty texture.

Previously, we’ve explored primarily western dishes like hearty hamburgers and comforting meatballs, bolstered with this plant-based dynamo. It’s about time we shifted focus to some more spicy fare. India, with an extensive history of vegetarianism, is ripe for an umami revolution.

Immediately, I thought of keema curry. Keema means “minced meat” in Urdu, which usually translates to ground lamb, goat, or sometimes beef when it comes to curry. The protein isn’t the defining factor of this dish, though; it’s the intense blend of pungent spices, tempered over a hot stove and then simmered gently, which unlocks a bold new world of flavor.

This is a great opportunity to use up any extra shiitake stems you might have been saving from other recipes. Minced finely, they add an ideal toothsome texture that approximates ground meat, working in concert with the walnuts and lentils to make a satisfying plant protein. Each bite is layered with nuanced, contrasting, yet complimentary textures and flavors using this easy approach.

How Can You Made Keema Curry Your Own?

No two cooks make the same exact keema curry. Spices are always highly subjective, so don’t be afraid to season to taste. There are plenty of other options to explore, including:

  • For a lower-carb recipe, you can either omit the potatoes or swap them for fresh cauliflower florets.
  • Bump up the beefy experience by using a meatless ground beef substitute instead of lentils. Be sure to brown it along with the onion before proceeding with the recipe.
  • If you’re working with a limited spice rack, you can use about 3 – 4 tablespoons garam masala instead of the whole and ground individual spices.
  • When tomatoes are in season, go ahead and use fresh (1 1/2 – 2 cups diced) instead of canned.
  • For those who like it hot, add diced Serrano peppers or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

While keema curry is brilliant right after cooking, it actually improves over time. If you can plan ahead and make your curry in advance, the spices can mingle and meld, becoming richer and more harmonious when reheated. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, leftover should keep for 5 – 7 days. Consider doubling the recipe to fully appreciate it, now and later.

Yield: Makes 4 - 5 Servings

Meatless Keema Curry

Meatless Keema Curry

Make a vegan version of aromatic, richly spiced keema curry by using the umami power of minced shiitake mushrooms. Tender lentils add plant-based protein to create an easy, incredibly satisfying entree.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


Keema Curry:

  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 4 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 6 Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Teaspoon Whole Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Pound Yukon Gold Potatoes, Diced
  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown or Green Lentils
  • 1 Cup Rehydrated Shiitake Mushrooms (Caps and/or Stems,) Finely Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 (14.5-Ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • 3/4 - 1 Cup Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Minced

Optional Serving Suggestions:

  • Cooked Basmati or Jasmine Rice
  • Naan
  • Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
  • Lime Wedges
  • Fresh Cilantro


  1. In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Once liquefied, add the whole cardamom pods, peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes to temper the spices, stirring often, until fragrant.
  2. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic, and saute until the onion is translucent and golden around the edges; 6 - 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Fold in the lentils, shiitake, and walnuts, being careful to loosen any potatoes sticking to the bottom of the pan without mashing them. Season generously with salt.
  4. Stir the tomato paste into the diced tomatoes to make it easier to incorporate before adding the mixture to the pan, followed by the ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Pour in 3/4 cup of vegetable stock and stir well.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Add up to 1/4 cup of additional vegetable stock if the mixture seems dry at any point. Squeeze in the lime juice when it's almost done cooking.
  6. Toss in the peas, allowing them to cook from the residual heat of the dish. Turn off the stove and stir in the cilantro last.
  7. Serve hot, with your choice of rice or flatbread and optional garnishes. Enjoy!


To cook lentils from scratch, bring 4 cups of the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of dry lentils and reduce heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes until lentils are tender (but not falling apart). Drain any excess water.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 559Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 720mgCarbohydrates: 84gFiber: 15gSugar: 11gProtein: 20g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

This post was made possible as a collaboration with SUGIMOTO Co. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

4 thoughts on “Keema Curry for Keeps

    1. Thank you! It breaks my heart to think of people throwing away such vital ingredients. The stems have tons of flavor in them!

  1. You got me with shiitake and curry, this recipe rocks! Definitely unique as I never used mushrooms in curries like such. This one is a keeper

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