This month, I’m taking part in a Canadian project called Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap. Ten food writers from across the country were asked to create a recipe using ground beef in a new and exciting way. We then swapped recipes with another writer. My swap partner is Edmonton’s Michelle Peters of The Tiffin Box. I must admit that I has a moment of panic when I received her recipe. Kheema Pav? Help me out here, Google.

I soon discovered that this spicy delight was a common Mumbai street food——and I’m a huge fan of ALL street food. So I gathered my Indian spice box, something I invested in right after meeting Raghavan Iyer, and started to assemble my ingredients——whole coriander seeds, garam masala, cumin and a fresh batch of cayenne pepper. I tossed them into the spice grinder and my kitchen instantly smelled fantastic!

kheema pav 2

This recipe is all about the magic that happens by building in flavour layer by layer. It starts with the onion in canola oil and ghee, then comes the garlic, ginger and chillies. Then ground beef and tomatoes. Then that irresistible spice blend that someone has a touch of sweetness to it. Let that simmer for 20 minutes and you’ve got something special. Let it sit for a day in the fridge and you have something that will knock your socks off.

If you’re a little short of time (like I was) or a little lazy (like I am), you can swap the pav with a package of store-bought tray buns——the sqishy white ones that come by the dozen.

kheema pav 1

I set out a tray of kheema complete with limes, red onions and cilantro, plus the tray buns with some excellent butter (I treat myself to the Manitoba-made pound from Notre Dame) just before the Winnipeg Jets game was about to start. Everyone dug in, and then dug in some more! We made mini buns, almost Sloppy Joe style, but with so much more depth of flavour. I lasted a whole two day before I had to make another batch.

Kheema Pav

A Mumbai Street Food Recipe

Pav (bread rolls)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk, scalded
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter + a little extra
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups sifted all purpose flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Soften active dry yeast in warm water.

Combine milk, sugar, butter and salt. Cool. Add 1 cup of the flour and beat well with a wooden spoon.

Beat in softened yeast and egg.

Gradually add remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead the dough (around 7 – 8 minutes) until soft and pliable, then shape into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in size (1½ to 2 hours)

Lightly turn out the risen dough on to lightly floured surface. Pat down and shape into 12 small balls.

Place the dough balls next to each other in a baking tray, then cover and let rise for another hour.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 – 20 minutes, until the rolls are golden. Brush a little extra butter on the crusts while still warm.

kheema pav 4


1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ – 1 teaspoon mild (or hot) cayenne pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon aamchur (dried mango powder)
2 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon ghee (optional)
1 cup, finely diced onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 – 2 hot, green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
1 cup, finely chopped tomatoes
500g ground beef
½ cup water
½ cup fresh or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Fresh pav, softened salted butter and lime wedges, to serve

In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, coriander, garam masala, cayenne pepper and aamchur. Keep this spice mix aside.

Heat the oil, and the ghee (if using) in a heavy based sauté pan, and add the onion. Fry on a medium heat for 7 – 8 minutes, until softened and beginning to brown on the edges.

Add the crushed garlic, ginger and chillies and stir together for a minute, until fragrant.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the spice mix to the pan and season with a little salt.

Fry, stirring often, for 10 – 15 minutes, until the mixture is thick and the oil is beginning to shimmer around the edges.

Add the ground beef and fry for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the water, cover the pan, and let the kheema simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch the peas in salted, boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain.

Uncover the pan, and add the peas to the kheema, and continue to cook for another 5 – 7 minutes, until the mixture is on the dry side. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Take off the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve with the pav, butter and lime wedges.

For even more inspiration for ground beef creations that go beyond burgers and spaghetti sauce, please visit ThinkBeef and look for the hashtag #RethinkBeef across all social media platforms.

Disclaimer – This post is sponsored and I was compensated monetarily and with groceries by