Mr Naga Keema

A very hot curry with Mr Naga chilli pickle taking centre stage as the star of the show. Mr Naga is a hot pickle with a special flavour that deserves serious credit, and is often used by Indian takeaways and restaurants as a condiment to enhance curries. You can usually buy Mr Naga in Asian grocery shops and supermarkets, or from the internet at a premium.

Pictured above is a Mr Naga Keema curry. The YouTube video below uses pre-cooked chicken. In fact any main ingredient can be used as to your preference.

This recipe will make enough to feed 1-2 people, and is one of many in my second award-winning book, Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2.


  • 3-4 TBSP Oil (45-60ml)
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 tsp Ginger/Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1 tsp Extra Hot Chilli Powder (or 2 tsp
  • ‘regular’ chilli powder)
  • 1½ tsp Mix Powder
  • ¼-½ tsp Salt


  • 4-6 TBSP Tomato Paste 
  • 330ml+ Base Gravy, heated up
  • Pre-cooked Chicken/Lamb/Vegetables, etc.
  • 1 TBSP Mr Naga Chilli Pickle (adjust to taste)
  • 1 fresh Naga Chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 tsp Honey or Jaggery/Brown Sugar (optional)
  • Fresh Coriander, Cucumber Slice, and some very fine Naga Chilli Slices for garnish


  1. Add the ghee/oil to frying pan on medium high heat.
  2. Then add the cumin seeds and fry for 30-45 seconds, or until the seeds start to crackle. Stir frequently.
  3. Next add the ginger/garlic paste and stir diligently until starting to brown and the sizzling sound reduces.
  4. Add the kasuri methi, extra hot chilli powder, mix powder, salt, and a splash of base gravy (e.g. 30ml) to help the spices cook without burning.
  5. Fry for 20-30 seconds, stirring frequently with the flat of the spoon.
  6. Add the tomato paste and turn up the heat to high. Cook for 20-30 seconds or until the oil separates and tiny craters appear around the edges. Stir occasionally.
  7. Now add the pre-cooked chicken/lamb/vegetables, etc., and mix well into the sauce.
  8. Add 75ml of base gravy, stir into the sauce, and leave on high heat until the sauce has reduced a little and tiny craters form again. This should take 30 seconds or so.


  1. Repeat the previous step by adding another 75ml of base gravy. Stir and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan once when first added, then leave the sauce to cook as before.
  2. Add 150ml of base gravy and stir/scrape once again.
  3. Leave to cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached and the oil has separated. Halfway through that 4-5 minute period add the Mr Naga chilli pickle and the fresh naga chilli (if you are using it).
  4. Add a bit more base gravy during cooking if desired to thin the sauce out to your preferred consistency. Stir and scrape the caramelisation back into the sauce, but do this only once or twice to prevent burning.
  5. Dare to taste the curry a minute or so before the end of cooking. Pour in the optional but recommended 2-3 tsp honey if desired. The honey gives a nice rounded flavour that works well with the sharpness of Mr Naga. If you have no honey, use jaggery or brown sugar.
  6. Garnish with a slice of cucumber, finely chopped coriander leaves, and very thin slices of a red naga chilli.


  • Mr Naga is a must for this curry, but you can substitute a Scotch bonnet for the fresh Naga chilli if you wish to.
Jar of Mr Naga Chilli Pickle
Watch the Video

Books by Richard Sayce

Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1
Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2 Front Cover
Curry Compendium Cookbook


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