This Chicken Jalfrezi recipe is one of the easiest curries to prepare. Traditionally, it is make with leftover meat from a large Sunday roast. I didn’t have any leftovers from my Sunday dinner but I have used cooked chicken to make the curry and cooking method more authentic.
Chicken jalfrezi Trivia (for those who are interest)
It’s origin of this dish goes back to the days of the British Raj. A Buddhist tribe called the Mogs from West Bengal – now part of Bangladesh – found themselves serving the British as household cooks.
Now the British loved their parties and had great feasts complete with large turkeys, beef joints, whole lambs – you name it – if the meat was big, it was served by the Mogs.
It was the Mogs who interpreted and cooked to their employers’ tastes. The British demanded good old English cooking and they got it on a very grand scale!
Picture yourself for a moment in the Mogs’ position and you might see how the chicken jalfrezi was born. The word Jal in Bengali means ‘pungently spicy’ and frezi means ‘stir-fry’.
The weather was often miserably hot and the work conditions were not good. The Mogs had to cook these massive feasts over hot fires in the heat of the afternoon, often without the proper utensils or stoves.
The feasts were so big that there were always left overs and their British employers did not like waste. The Mogs were made to use the leftovers for other – not so elaborate mid-week meals.
They loved this as it gave them a chance to be creative. They added their own spices that the British grew to love and they also stir fried the cooked leftovers quickly so that they could get away from the heat as soon as possible.
That is how this jalfrezi recipe and others like it came to be!
That is what traditional jalfrezi recipe is. It’s a stir-fry that is packed with Bengali spices that is also quick and easy to make.
Following is a jalfrezi recipe I was taught by a chef at my local Indian restaurant. This is not how he prepares it there but it is how it would be prepared at home for his family.
The Chicken Jalfrezi Sauce
Chicken jalfrezi is usually a dry curry as in the photo above. I tend to add about 300ml chicken stock as my family likes saucier curries. It’s a personal thing. If you want a more authentic jalfrezi, the stock out or use less. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to add some fresh sliced onions and chillies just before serving. They are a nice, crispy addition.
Here are more curry house curry favourites you might like to try!
Lamb Rogan Josh
Chicken Chilli Garlic
How to Make a Traditional Indian Chicken Jalfrezi
- 700g cooked chicken - skinned and cut into chunks
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (Indian clarified butter)
- 10 fresh curry leaves (optional but very good)
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 large onions - finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
- 20 dried garlic flakes (optional)
- 1 carrot - sliced thinly
- 1 inch piece of ginger - grated
- 1 red onion finely sliced
- 3 green chilli peppers (more or less to taste
- 1 carrot cut into 2mm thick pieces
- 1 green bell pepper cut into strips
- 3 large tomatoes and their juices - diced
- 1 bunch coriander leaves finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- Juice of 2 limes
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large frying pan or wok, heat the vegetable oil or ghee over high heat.
- Throw in the mustard, curry leaves and cumin seeds. When they begin to pop, add the ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder. Allow to sizzle for about 20 seconds.
- Now add the onion and fry for about 2 minutes until it is translucent and lightly browned.
- Stir in the garlic and ginger paste followed by the carrots, chilli peppers, garlic flakes (if using) and bell pepper. Fry for about two more minutes.
- Throw in your chicken and chopped tomatoes and cook for about five more minutes. You may need to add a bit of water or chicken stock. The sauce should be thick and not too runny. That is unless you want more sauce. 🙂
- Add the rest of the ingredients and serve immediately with white and/or naans.
Thursday 28th of July 2022
Love this curry and just to chip in to the whole reheat debate we sous vide 90% of our meat (cook at around 65C for ages) portion it and freeze. We also make just the sauces then we freeze them too. When we fancy a curry we take the sauce we want the meat we want and reheat together. That way everyone can choose there own curry combo. It is difficult though when they all taste so good.
Thursday 4th of August 2022
Sous vide for the meat sounds like a great idea! Thanks Dan
Monday 13th of June 2022
Hi, do I cut the Chilli peppers into small pieces and can I use Jalapeno peppers
Tuesday 14th of June 2022
Yes, cut into small pieces and yes use any peppers you have on hand. Thanks Dan
Tuesday 30th of March 2021
H dan, i want to make it vegan , is tha possible? can yo give me some ideas? thanks
Thursday 1st of April 2021
There are quite a lot of vegetables in the jalfrezi so you could just miss out the chicken and it would still be very tasty. Thanks Dan
Wednesday 19th of September 2018
Hi Dan I have chicken breasts do I just cook in the oven ,I love the ingredients
Kind Regards Marion
Wednesday 19th of September 2018
You could fry the chicken or bake it. Either is fine for this recipe. Thank you, Dan
Thursday 5th of April 2018
Great recipes Dan. My question is when you pre cook the chicken, then reheat it, won't it have the tendency to go dry? Similarly,if you make a large batch of the curry and have some left over for the following day, will reheating the whole curry dry out the chicken?
Monday 30th of April 2018
Not at all! That's how it's done at the restaurants. If you are making a lot of curries in this style, you could start cooking the chicken until it is about 90% cooked through. That helps keep some of the moisture in. Not at all necessary but a good touch.