Keema is a traditional South Asian meat dish. Originally this word meant minced meat. It is typically minced mutton curry with peas or potatoes although it can be made from almost any meat, can be cooked by stewing or frying, and can be formed into kababs. Keema is also sometimes used as a filling for samosas or naan.
In Iraq, cooking keema during the month of Muharram is an Ashura ritual and often lasts until Arbaeen, 40 days after the day of the death of Imam Hussein, or the Day of Ashura. It’s believed here that people will be blessed if they serve food to food to pilgrims and neighbours during Ashura in honor of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad. Imam Hussein along within his relatives and his followers were massacred on the plains of Karbala in 680 CE. They had no food or water during their battle with the forces of Caliph Yazid. The food is meant as a blessing for the soul of Imam Hussein. Shiites ask forgiveness for Imam Hussein’s death and to atone for their own sins.
Iraqis make keema from chickpeas, meat, tomato paste, spices, salt and dry lemons – known locally as Basra lemons in large pans and distribute the food to friends and anyone passing by.
Our colleague Ibrahim brought keema and rice from his home for us today. Keema was quite tasty and nice. Thanks Ibrahim!