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When Hanger Strikes

  • Writer's pictureMari

Caramelized Onion and Keema Rice

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

More than pasta, rice is my go to when I’m trying to make something quick and filling. I discovered sella rice a few years ago and I will never go back to any other type of rice again. It’s an Afghan/Persian grain and you’ve probably had it before and just thought it was really really good basmati or jasmine. It’s a long grain type of rice like those two, but it’s waaaay firmer, and so hard to overcook. Back to this dish - Caramelized Onion Rice with Keema (ground meat). Pretty easy, super flavourful, v filling. Also - make the caramelized onion/meat on a weekend, keep it in the fridge, whip it out on a weeknight and make fresh rice.

Makes 4-6 servings


2 1/2 cups sella rice, uncooked

1/4 cup pigeon peas (toor daal), uncooked

3 cups water

1/3 cup almond, roughly chopped

2 tsp fleur de sel (or sea salt), divided

2 tbs olive oil, divided

1 tbs ghee/butter, divided

2 white onions, thinly sliced

1 tsp honey

1 tsp white vinegar

250 grams ground beef, chicken, lamb or turkey

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/4 cup full fat yogurt

1 egg yolk

A few strands of saffron, mixed into 1 tbs warm water (sub 1/8 tsp turmeric powder for saffron)

1 potato, grated


1. Add the rice and pigeon peas to a medium sized saucepan. Submerge in water and let it soak for 15 mins while you prepare the onions.

2. To a large frying pan, add half the olive oil and half the butter/ghee. Turn the stove on to medium heat. Once the butter has melted and the oil is hot, add the onions and 1 tsp of salt. Stir often.

3. Cook the onions for a total of 15 minutes, stirring often. At the 5 minute mark, add the honey. At the 10 minute mark, add the vinegar.

4. At the 15 minute mark, add the ground meat, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and a pinch more salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the meat is fully cooked and is starting to brown, about 7-10 minutes. While the meat is browning, cook the rice.

4. Drain the soaked rice. Add the chopped almond, 1 tsp of salt, and 3 cups of water. Bring the rice up to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium high. Cook the rice for 5-7 minutes with no lid, or until all of the water has absorbed. Make sure to stir constantly, as the rice sticks to the bottom of the pot very easily when being cooked this way.

5. Once all of the water has been absorbed, remove the rice from heat. It will still be quite undercooked. Divide in half. To one half, add the yogurt, saffron infused water, and egg yolk. To the other half, add the cooked ground meat. Stir both very well to fully combine.

6. Add the remaining butter and olive oil to large, deep pan. Melt on medium heat. Once the oil is very hot, add the grated potato and spread out to a thin, even layer. Layer the yogurt rice over top. Use a spoon to push the rice tightly into the pan, and to smooth it out. Next spoon the keema rice over top the yogurt rice. Again, press the rice in very tightly and smooth the top. Cover with a fitted lid, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice for 12-15 minutes, until the grains are fully cooked through.

7. Remove the lid. Using an oven mitt or towel, put a plate on top of the pan. Gently flip the pan over to allow the rice to come out on to the plate. It should be in a cake shape. Garnish with fresh cilantro, fresh parsley, and fresh pomegranate seeds, and serve with yogurt.


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