Spiced Ground Beef Sandwiches

Kheema Paav

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

660 Curries

By Raghavan Iyer

Published 2008

  • About

Sloppy Joes—those sandwiches of tomato-infused ground beef in hamburger buns—may well be as American as apple pie, but kheema paav, often made with ground mutton or lamb, is the equivalent in Mumbai and Delhi, a street food invented by vendors of the Muslim faith and devoured by all who eat meat. Both sandwiches are designed to be eaten on the run, at a picnic, or even at a simple family dinner, with the Indian version—no surprise—packing more oomph.


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and inch thick), finely chopped
  • 2 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed, finely chopped (do not remove the seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Bin bhuna hua garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
  • 8 ounces lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • Butter for spreading on the buns
  • 8 small white finger-sandwich-style buns, about 3 inches in diameter
  • ½ cup finely chopped scallions (green tops and white bulbs) for sprinkling


  1. Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle until they turn reddish brown and smell nutty, 10 to 15 seconds. Immediately add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles. Stir-fry until the onion is light brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, garam masala, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until there is an oily sheen on the surface and around the edges of the sauce, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Break up the ground beef, if necessary, and add it to the skillet along with the cilantro. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the meat is partially cooked, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in ½ cup water and continue simmering the curry, covered, stirring occasionally, to let the flavors mingle, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the curry from the heat and keep it covered so it stays warm.
  5. Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Butter the cut side of each slice of bun and place them, butter side down, on the griddle. Cook until the underside is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the buns from the griddle.
  6. To serve, place the bottom half of 2 buns on each plate. Spoon a liberal serving of kheema onto each bun, top it with a sprinkling of scallions, and set the other half of the bun on top.