Lamb Surprise in Scotland


lamb keema 

We went to the wilds of northwestern Scotland, found a South African restaurant, and discovered an Indian dish that is now our favorite thing to make with minced (or ground) lamb.  Who would have thought it?!  We went expecting haggis, oatcakes, and blood sausage.  I’ll share the recipe with you later in this post but, first, let me share how we got there.

A trip to Scotland has been a lifelong dream, so I went with expectations.  Many were met, most were exceeded, and quite a few were turned on their heads.  The food was just one of those upside down things.  Yes, a traditional Scottish breakfast of thick bacon, eggs, baked tomatoes, blood sausage, and baked beans was offered at every B&B we stayed at.  And the seafood was exceptional all along western Scotland as it was fresh-caught daily.  I guess I’d fallen prey, though, to stereotypes of boring UK food.  Had I remembered the colonial history of the country I wouldn’t have been so surprised by the diversity of cuisine we enjoyed. 

 We spent our trip along the western part of Scotland finding lovely international food in even the smallest villages.  Whether eating traditional fish and chips, exquisitely prepared continental dishes, or spicy Thai food our taste buds were tickled.  Since we raise Katahdin Hair Sheep for meat, I’d hoped to expand my knowledge of lamb dishes.  Parts of Scotland abound in sheep.  I knew I wasn’t interested in haggis which is savory pudding made from sheep organs encased in the animal's stomach. 

What a surprise it was to discover Lamb Keema on one of the islands of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.  Keema is a minced lamb dish bursting with unexpected flavors.  It is an Indian dish, said to have originated in Persia, and very popular with South Africans of Indian descent.  It is now a family favorite we make from ground lamb raised here on the farm. 

Coming home from Scotland, I set about trying to replicate the delicious dish we had experienced on our trip.  You don’t even want to know how many different ways there are to make lamb keema.  A casual check of the internet convinced me that I’d need to experiment and come up with my own recipe consulting my taste memories.   Here’s what I finally settled on.  I hope you have a chance to try it and that you enjoy it as much as we have.  You can use minced or ground lamb.

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