Parsi Kheema Pav (Curried Minced Lamb on Buns)

There are two ways to serve this incredibly flavorful ground lamb seasoned with spices, ginger, and chiles. More traditionally, it is served with soft pav buns on the side. Or go a little more modern with a dish that chef Meherwan Irani calls "Sloppy Jai"—perhaps the tastiest version of a Sloppy Joe you may ever eat. The lamb is served stuffed in the pav with green chutney, cilantro, sliced onions, green chiles, and Maggi ketchup.

Parsi Keema Pav (Curried Minced Lamb on Buns)
Photo: Photo by Joel Goldberg / Food Styling by Mallory Lance
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs


For the Parsi Keema

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as grapeseed

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 green cardamom pod

  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons store-bought ginger-garlic paste

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green chile (serranos work fine)

  • 2 cups chopped red onion

  • Kosher salt, for seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder, such as kashmiri chile powder

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 pound ground lamb

  • ½ cup plain whole-fat yogurt

  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) or 1 box (17.2 ounces) canned crushed tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon rice wine or white distilled vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon liquid jaggery or granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

For the Traditional Plating

  • White onions, chopped and sliced

  • Green chiles, chopped and sliced

  • Chopped fresh cilantro

  • Lime wedges

  • Chaat masala

  • 12 pav or dinner rolls, split

  • 1 tablespoon butter

For the Sloppy Jai's

  • 12 pav or dinner rolls, split

  • Maggi ketchup

  • Chopped white onions

  • Chopped green chiles

  • Chopped fresh cilantro

  • Green chutney


  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until it begins to shimmer. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the cumin seeds, cracked pepper, cinnamon stick, green cardamom, and black cardamom, if using. Stir in the ginger-garlic paste, fresh ginger, and chiles. Let them sizzle for 2 to 3 seconds, then increase the heat to medium-high, add the onion, and season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is deep golden brown and no pink remains, reducing the heat if the onions begin to get too dark, 4 to 5 minutes.

  2. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the coriander, cumin, chile powder, and turmeric and 1 tablespoon of water and saute until the spices are toasted, about 1 minute. Add the lamb gradually, over the course of a minute, spacing it out evenly in the pan. Cook until lamb is browned on the bottom, then turn the lamb over. Continue to cook, occasionally breaking up the meat and mixing well with the onions and spices. Cook until the lamb is browned and fully cooked, about 5 minutes more.

  3. Stir in the yogurt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is glossy, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomato. Reduce the heat to medium to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes look completely cooked, the mixture thickens slightly, and there's a sheen of oil on the surface of the lamb, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and sugar and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Mix in the garam masala.

  4. For the Traditional Assembly: Mound the lamb on the plates. Top with onions, chiles, and cilantro. Serve sliced onions on the side topped with sliced chiles, if you'd like. Squeeze lime juice over the keema and the onions. Sprinkle chaat masala on the onions. Serve with buttered pav on the side.

  5. For Sloppy Jais: Spread some ketchup on the bottom half of each pav. Pile keema high on top and garnish with chopped chiles and onions. Drizzle with green chutney and the top half of each pav and serve immediately.

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