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Berwick, North Northumberland: Food-Travel-Culture-Community

Keema calm and carry on

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

After such a long period of breath-holding it’s almost too scary to believe that we may be at a turning point with coronavirus. It’s times like these when a good dose of comfort food steadies the nerves and warms the heart – and distracts from something we almost daren’t believe in. Lovely, reliable food.

We’ve found that some issues of Feast don’t inspire us to rush immediately to the kitchen (although there’s always something to be tackled, of course). However, other issues have us racing to the hob before Saturday coffee – and offer such rich pickings that we plunder them again and again. So, for lashings of calming comfort, we returned to Issue No.162 and Felicity Cloake’s perfect keema – which had already gifted us Tamal Ray’s chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans and several other recipes including Rachel Roddy’s magnificent pork, bread and bay skewers.

A sneak preview of the Husband’s take on Rachel Roddy’s fantabulous pork, bread and bay skewers – also from Feast Issue No.162

I’m still one foot down so The Husband and eldest daughter remain firmly in the cooking seat. The Husband has been creating all sorts of deliciousness – including the skewers pictured above – but is determined to guest blog about his endeavours. Last night it was the eldest daughter who stepped up to Felicity’s perfect keema challenge. She allowed me to meddle lightly in the prep of chilli, ginger and garlic before ushering me back to my foot-up observation point.

We agree with Felicity’s keema preference of lamb over beef – and fattier over lean – for this spicy, fragrant feel-good lip-smacker. Eldest daughter would have liked to add lamb bone marrow for an even richer vibe but none was available – next time. Total cooking and prep time about an hour.

The only hiccup was the realisation that we were low on fresh coriander. Oh, and that mint sauce was our only source of mint. Hey ho, in went the fresh coriander bolstered with frozen and The Husband persuaded eldest daughter to tip in a tablespoon of mint sauce. Perfect keema? Yeah baby! One of the fabulous things about this recipe is the pop of intense flavour delivered by those whole cardamom, coriander and cumin seeds. The final masterstroke was serving the keema with coconut rice (shavings from a block of creamed coconut cooked in with the rice) infused with cinnamon. The daughter had made enough keema and rice for five peckish people. We three wolfed down the lot.

Here’s to lockdown ending and staying ended – and taking comfort in comfort food for the sheer and simple joy of it.

Original recipe:

Felicity Cloake – the perfect keema

Felicity Cloake's perfect keema created by my eldest daughter
Comfort on a plate: the spicy pop of perfect keema served with coconut and cinnamon rice in my Berwick kitchen

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