Keema spaghetti, or keema macaroni, is comfort food to many South Asians whose parents would serve it to them when they wanted to repurpose leftover keema or feed a large party. It pairs familiar flavors (onion, tomatoes, red chiles, ginger, and garlic) with simmered ground meat (beef, chicken, and lamb are common) and cooked pasta. Once topped with a generous helping of ketchup, the dish has the ability to unite South Asians across borders and generations in a nostalgic fervor.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions and sauté on medium heat until soft and evenly brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Lower heat and add crushed ginger and garlic. Fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add diced chili.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add ground beef. Crumble with spatula and season with salt and pepper. Fry for roughly 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the oil begins to separate from the meat.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red chile flakes, oregano, and ¼ tsp salt.
- Add 1 cup water and cover with tight-fitting lid. Let the sauce cook on low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick. Add a splash of water to deglaze the pot if needed. Remove from heat and check for salt and pepper, adjusting seasoning as needed.
- Cook spaghetti (or pasta of choice) as per packet instructions. Drain.
- Serve keema sauce alongside spaghetti or mix it in a large bowl and serve with a side of ketchup.
Maryam Jillani was TASTE's Cook In Residence, and the founder of Pakistan Eats.