Friday, June 11, 2010

I Can't Believe It's Not Kheema

In addition to all my own groceries that I'm unearthing this month, I also inherited some groceries last week- two of my dear neighbors moved away and brought me food that they did not have the heart to throw away and did not have the space to transport to their new homes. This is how my bag of TVP (dry soy granules) acquired an identical twin- another bag of TVP to keep it company.

So it really was perfect timing that I bookmarked Kanchan's mother's recipe for a vegetarian version of mincemeat curry or kheema that looked absolutely spot on- just like the stuff I have eaten and loved many years ago.

The mention of kheema brought back many memories. My Dad is part of a lawn tennis club. On Sunday morning, they used to play a few games and then at 9 AM or so, sit down to eat a gigantic breakfast of kheema, so spicy and greasy that you got heartburn just looking at it, with sliced white bread. A case of the positive force of physical activity being canceled out by the equal and opposing force of dubious nutrition, but apparently resulting in much camaraderie and joy for the people involved.

Most of all, kheema reminds me of my meat-loving aji. My grandmother, now unfortunately ill and bed-ridden, sure loves her mincemeat. She would cook it as kheema curry, in meatball (goli) curry, meatball pulao and even kheema pohe! Now isn't it ironic that her one grandchild who is obsessed with recipes and cooking (me) never liked eating meat and quit eating it altogether as a teenager?

Kanchan's recipe reminded me that it is the unique spice combination that makes the dish what it is, not the mincemeat. This dish happens to be completely vegan and exquisitely flavorful.

Kanchan, please tell your mother that her recipe rocks, and so do you, for posting it on your blog and sharing it with us.

Soy Kheema

(adapted from Kanchan's recipe on Kitchen Gossip; makes 6-8 servings)

1. Make a fine powder with the following and set aside-
  • 4 tbsp. dry coconut powder
  • 3 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 14 inch cinnamon
  • 2 pods cardamom
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
2. Boil 2 cups of water, turn off the heat and add 2 cups of textured vegetable protein (TVP) or soy granules. Cover and set aside to rehydrate.

3. Heat 1 tbsp. oil. Saute 2 medium finely diced onions until light brown.

4. Add the following and saute well for several minutes:
  • 1 tsp. green chili paste
  • 1 heaped tsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder (if you like it spicy)
  • 12 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. Kolhapuri masala or garam masala
  • 3-4 chopped tomatoes
5. Add spice mixture (made earlier) and stir for a minute.

6. Stir in rehydrated TVP, 2 tsp. tamarind paste, salt to taste and water as necessary to make a curry of the desired consistency.

7. Simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with plenty of cilantro.

Because I was able to use a fellow blogger's recipe to make something fantastic with the TVP lurking in my pantry, this goes to Blog Bites 4. Join us if you like, to eat down your own pantry while discovering new recipes, saving money, clearing kitchen clutter and cutting down on food waste.


  1. This soy kheema looks perfect. I don't much care of soy though. I'll give it a shot with the real deal.

    Did not know that tidbit about you Nupur - that you are converted vegetarian.

  2. Ditto Indo, I mean didn't know you were a convert.

    But I like Soy granules, the TVP kinds, I also like the chunks.

    These granules also make great koftas, My Mom used to make them often

  3. Processed Soy product is very harmful to health based on studies. Please see link below.


  4. This looks very good! Bookmarked!

  5. They serve soy kheema with pasta here in Germany. A healthy vegetarian option for kheema.

  6. It is very hard to get good meat substitutes or recipes that work well with them. So very good to know you had a good experience with this dish.

    I know what you mean about our pantry growing when others move. I recently saw at a bachelor friend's place.. not 1 or 2, but 3 large bags of chana daal!! Apparently they are all from his friends who have moved. I don't know what he is going to do with them.. almost certainly just store them till he moves! :D Was almost tempted to clean out his pantry (and whole flat) myself!! ;D

  7. Wow.. thats a good veggie replacement.. Should be tasting great too..

  8. I really like soy granules and even the nuggets.. This sounds like a great quick recipe to rustle up for dinner with rotis or maybe even bread! :)

  9. This recipe sure looks worth trying. What brand of TVP do u use ? I have only tried the nutrela brand so far so wanted ideas as to which others are good.

  10. My MIL makes something similar but without the masala paste. Will have to try this, as I have a bag of TVP TOO.

  11. You made my Monday Nupur... totally!
    I’m like a big fan of your space and you trying out one of my post … was like a honor! I’m too flattered :D

    Good you loved it … even I was surprised that the final outcome didn’t miss any of essence of the real Kheema…and it does go best with solkadi n rice … yummm... My saliva glands are secreting heavily as I type this :P

    Thnku … and I seriously called my Mom just now mentioning this, even she is glad ;)

  12. What better use for soy granules, than in keema! Can I use unsweetened dessicated coconut in place of the powder coconut the recipe calls for? Are they the same thing?

  13. indosungod- Converted LOL yes, I grew up in a meat-eating family and was (am) the odd person out!

    Lavanya- I believe it is fine in moderation.

    Bong Mom- Mmm, koftas, that's something I might make with the rest of the TVP!

    anushruti- Thanks!

    Life is beautiful!!!- Oh yes, they make spaghetti sauce here with soy granules.

    SS blogs here- I rarely use meat substitutes so this was fun to make and eat. Had to laugh at the 3 bags of chana dal :) time to google chana dal recipes, me thinks!

    Nitha- Yes, it tasted fantastic.

    The Housewife- Bread is what we enjoyed it with.

    roshni- I used Bob's Red Mill TVP.

    Pavani- With the masala paste, it only makes it that much more richer and tastier but I do enjoy the simpler preps too.

    Kanchan- No, you made my day. Seriously, it is so nice to try something and fall in love with it, and have it bring back happy memories. Will definitely try this with bhaat and solkadhi!

    Veggie Belly- I think the unsweetened desiccated coconut will work just fine here- give it a try, it is an excellent recipe!

  14. Yet another wonderful vegan I-must-try dish! I always have TVP in my pantry for some odd reason--now I have a use for it! Thanks, Nupur!

  15. ooh- this sounds sooo yumm..Why do you always make me crave food when I am supposed to be working?..:) Do you think these spices would work with a paneer burji kind of mixture?

    I kind of knew from your posts that you were a 'converted vegetarian' (as am I..:)) but didn't know that you quit eating meat as a kid (teenagers finally count as kids in my book-I feel see that I am beginning to ramble being sleep and food deprived so will stop 'talking' and instead salivate at the yummy picture of the soy kheema!

    by the way- I enjoyed your food fiction- loved the lazy 'mystery' feel of the piece..

  16. also- should the corriander and poppy seeds be roasted before being ground (i finally got a Preethi mixie from India (instead of the coffee grinder I was contemplating) so I no longer need to use the mortar and pestle for grinding- yay!!)

  17. Hi Nupur

    I have to share my story about the "Veggie Kheema". I am a vegetarian and have no idea of how kheema is s'pposed to taste, feel and look.I followed your recipe to the T and offered it to my brother at dinner saying that one of our neighbours sent it over for him knowing his love for indian non-veg food. I asked him a few times if that's how kheema tastes and how it was. He thought it was very good except that it wasn't quite as hot and spicy. Only then I took some on my plate.....he got the shock of his life and was like,"when did you start eating meat? I took great pleasure in announcing that he was eating soy!
    Even after being informed that it wasn't actually kheema he said he couldn't tell the difference. I think the credit totally goes to your/Kanchan's mom's recipe. I thoroughly enjoyed the taste and now know what kheema tastes like. In my humble opinion, I don't think I missed much.

    Thanks for the innovative recipe! I even made puff pastries using this veggie kheema for stuffing that turned out great.

  18. Kelly- I think you will love the complex flavors of this dish, it is very satisfying.

    Lavanya- Yes, a paneer burji would be the perfect vehicle for this masala too. I was not a kid even when I was a kid LOL but yes, created a ruckus by turning vegetarian at 13/14. Family squarely blamed Maneka Gandhi, I barely knew who she was :D
    You can roast the spices or not, up to you. I figure since they will be sauteed, roasting is not necessary.

    Manju- I love it! Thanks so much for sharing this story. All credit goes to Kanchan and her mom, and I agree, we non-meat-eaters are not missing out on anything :)


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