Kheema with Tea Leaves, Accidentally

Kheema (Mince) with Tea Leaves? An encounter with disaster, or a recipe when under the influence of?

Well actually No and Yes.

Yes because I was, err, under the influence of … and quite happy … and quite open to new ideas.

And No, it wasn’t an encounter with disaster, because the clever addition of tea actually helped balance out the sweetness of the onions and the tomatoes, something I’d been try to do for a long time quite unsuccessfully but discovered “how to” accidentally thanks to a foul up in reaching for the next ingredient to put in.

The tea-infused Kheema takes on a delicious light golden colour too, making it a winner on the “appetizing look” front because those of you who like mildly spiced food will agree, red chillies would have added the colour but would have also taken it to a totally avoidable nuclear status chili-alert level. Ouch for me, but if it works for you, feel free to add as many chillies as you can handle.

So what began as an attempt to merely ‘fix’ lunch with the ingredients in my larder turned out quite well indeed. And I was so happy with this new variation on my usual Kheema recipe that I decided to write it down for posterity’s sake, and no, not an ounce of pomposity intended here.

Here’s the recipe, mostly accurate I think. I was, err, under the influence of, if you will recall …

Kheema with Tea leaves, a delicious discovery by accident!


500g Mutton/Beef Kheema (Mince); 10 cloves of Garlic; 2 medium sized Onions; 2 large Green Chillies; 1” piece of Ginger; 2 one inch sticks of Cinnamon; 1 tsp Jeera (Cumin) powder; 1 tsp Dhania (Coriander) powder; 2 tsp Meat Masala powder; 1 tsp Whole Peppercorns; 2 Bay Leaves; 2 medium sized Tomatoes, cut into small cubes; 1 small cup of Green Peas; ½ tsp of (light) Tea; 2 tablespoons Oil; 2 cups of Water; Salt to taste; Coriander for garnishing


Grind the garlic, ginger, green chillies, and onions into a paste.

In a pot, add the oil and sauté the paste for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaves and sauté until the tomatoes become mushy and the oil begins to separate. Pop in the peppercorns and cinnamon. Add the jeera, dhania and meat masala powders and sauté for a few minutes. Add the Kheema and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the salt, green peas, tea leaves and water and simmer on a low fire till the mince is cooked (about 45 minutes). Garnish with coriander if you want.

Eat with crisp Rotis or Pao (a bread unique to Mumbai).

Note: Recipe and Image Copyright Sanjiv Khamgaonkar

6 thoughts on “Kheema with Tea Leaves, Accidentally

  1. wow it sounds fab.. but just a question don’t the tea leaves disturb the texture of the dish ?
    btw in burma they do fabulous salads with tea leaves

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