Meatless Keema Curry

Make a vegan version of aromatic, richly spiced keema curry by using the umami power of minced shiitake mushrooms. Tender lentils add plant-based protein to create an easy, incredibly satisfying entree.

This is a great opportunity to use up any extra shiitake stems you might have been saving from other recipes. Minced finely, they add an ideal toothsome texture that approximates ground meat, working in concert with the walnuts and lentils to make a satisfying plant protein. Each bite is layered with nuanced, contrasting, yet complimentary textures and flavors using this easy approach.

For a lower-carb recipe, you can either omit the potatoes or swap them for fresh cauliflower florets.
Bump up the beefy experience by using a meatless ground beef substitute instead of lentils. Be sure to brown it along with the onion before proceeding with the recipe.

If you’re working with a limited spice rack, you can use about 3 – 4 tablespoons garam masala instead of the whole and ground individual spices.
When tomatoes are in season, go ahead and use fresh (1 1/2 – 2 cups diced) instead of canned.
For those who like it hot, add diced Serrano peppers or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

While keema curry is brilliant right after cooking, it actually improves over time. If you can plan ahead and make your curry in advance, the spices can mingle and meld, becoming richer and more harmonious when reheated. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, leftover should keep for 5 – 7 days. Consider doubling the recipe to fully appreciate it, now and later.

Photo & recipe by Hannah Kaminsky (

Ingredients (YIELD: MAKES 4 - 5 SERVINGS) (50 minutes)

  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 4 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 6 Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1 Tbsp Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Pound Yukon Gold Potatoes, Diced
  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown or Green Lentils
  • 1 Cup Rehydrated Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (Caps and/or Stems,) Finely Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts, Finely Chopped
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 (14.5-Ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 3/4 - 1 Cup Vegetable Stock or Shiitake soaking water
  • 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Minced


In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Once liquefied, add the whole cardamom pods, peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes to temper the spices, stirring often, until fragrant.
Add the onion, ginger, and garlic, and saute until the onion is translucent and golden around the edges; 6 - 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
Fold in the lentils, shiitake, and walnuts, being careful to loosen any potatoes sticking to the bottom of the pan without mashing them. Season generously with salt.
Stir the tomato paste into the diced tomatoes to make it easier to incorporate before adding the mixture to the pan, followed by the ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Pour in 3/4 cup of vegetable stock and stir well.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Add up to 1/4 cup of additional vegetable stock if the mixture seems dry at any point. Squeeze in the lime juice when it's almost done cooking.
Toss in the peas, allowing them to cook from the residual heat of the dish. Turn off the stove and stir in the cilantro last.
Serve hot, with your choice of rice or flatbread and optional garnishes. Enjoy!


To cook lentils from scratch, bring 4 cups of the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of dry lentils and reduce heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes until lentils are tender (but not falling apart). Drain any excess water.

Optional Serving Suggestions:

  • Cooked Basmati or Jasmine Rice
  • Naan
  • Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
  • Lime Wedges
  • Fresh Cilantro

More recipes