Vegetarian Mince-“Kheema”

IMG_3648“Kheema” refers to finely ground meat cooked with caramelized onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and Indian spices. Today’s recipe features a unique “meatless” take on this Indian “classic” – using soy granules.

I like to think of soya granules as little sponges that easily absorb flavors of the spices you cook them in. The key however, is to first eliminate their distinct smell. This is achieved by alternatively soaking in hot water and then squeezing the water out of the granules. I love making vegetarian kebabs using these soya granules.


  • 1 1/4 cup soya granules- washed a couple of times in hot water and tightly squeeze the water out
  • 5 -6 whole green cardamom pods
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 2-3 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and freshly grated
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
  • 2 small tomatoes, grated
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste ( optional, lends a good color)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro finely chopped , reserve some of this for garnish later
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt  beaten (I used non-fat)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon red chilly powder (I like to use a mild red chilly powder, Kashmiri degi mirch is brightly colored but less spicy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 Thai green chillies, whole ( optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons canola oil


Heat oil in a vessel. Add whole spices like cloves, bay leaf, cardamoms, peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Then add onions and fry till it’s caramelized to a warm brown color. This will take 25 minutes.

Note: Add a dash of salt as this will help the onions to release water and brown faster.

IMG_3629Add the ginger and garlic paste and stir a couple of minutes.


IMG_3637Add the tomatoes and dry spices like coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric and red chilly powder. The tomatoes will take 10 minutes to cook and release oil, add the cilantro and throw in the soya granules.

Mix thoroughly. Reduce the heat to low and slowly mix the yogurt. Keep frying, until the soya is well coated. Add salt for taste and about 1/2 cup hot water. Throw in the whole green chillies on top.

Put a lid on top and let this cook for 10 to 12 minutes on medium high.

Taste for seasonings, and serve hot with “chappati” or “naan” and a bowl of boondi raita on the side. Enjoy!IMG_3648




17 comments to Vegetarian Mince-“Kheema”