canola, sunflower, or vegetable oil
yellow onions, diced
1 ½ tsp
1 ½ tsp
bird’s eye chili, diced
1 ¼ tsp
salt or to taste
ripe Roma tomatoes, crushed
red chile flakes
Ketchup (to taste)
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.