Lamb Surprise in Scotland

Reader Contribution by Sheryl Campbell
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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.

Lamb Keema Recipe


  • 1 T. Butter
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • Small piece of cinnamon bark
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 T. garam masala
  • 1 T. whole coriander
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped and drained well
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces frozen peas
  • Naan bread
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Heat butter in a large pan, add oil.  Sauté everything in the upper left column over low heat until onions are soft. Discard cinnamon bark.  Add all the spices from the right hand column and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and cook for 10 more minutes.
  2. In a heavy skillet, stir fry lamb until brown.  Add to keema mix; bring to a boil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce heat and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add peas and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.
  3. To serve:  heat naan bread and plate it on warm plates.  Top with a bit of Greek yogurt, then the Lamb Keema.  Garnish with fresh cilantro.  An alternate way to serve the keema is as a topping for jacket potatoes.

Kripy? bhojan k? ?nna?d lij?yai – please enjoy your meal (in Hindi)

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