This Chicken Jalfrezi 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 what traditional jalfrezi is. It’s a stir-fry that is packed with Bengali spices that is also quick and easy to make.
Following is a 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.
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- 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.