Jalfrezi Chicken Recipe | Indian Stir Fry
This Jalfrezi chicken recipe teaches you how to make the simple, spicy Indian stir fry that has quickly become one of the UK’s absolute favourite Indian classics.
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I have to admit to a little bit of snobbery here. I have always been far more drawn to the dishes I consider to be authentic than those I consider to be mere takeaway favourites. Or in fact anything altogether too British!
With that said, the more I learn about Indian cuisine, the more I come to believe the Anglicised dishes have a place of their own. Perhaps they’re not authentic Indian dishes, but they are true to the style of that cuisine. More than that, they are perhaps an authentic expression of English-Indian cuisine.
After all, we English have been tinkering and toying with Indian dishes for over 200 years. Is that not long enough to create a standard of its own? An honest, established subcategory of Indian dishes as real as any of the many regional cuisines across the country itself?
Why this dish?
As such, I have started exploring those Indian classics whose history as much takes place in England as in India. Dishes like the much derided Balti, which regardless of its origins is a fond memory for many an English child.
Or dishes like the Chicken Tikka Masala, the British national dish. A result of the love we have for the style of food we imported all those years ago.
Authentic or not, these dishes were developed because somebody loved something about the cuisine on which they were based. That can’t be a bad thing!
About the dish
Jalfrezi chicken is an interesting recipe for which there are a number of different supposed origin stories. My-Indian-Food suggests that the dish was created by an Englishman. Albeit an Englishman governing Bengal. Although I’m not sure where that version of events originates.
What matters more is the nature of the dish. Jalfrezi chicken is generally considered to have originated as a stir fry. Both the above cited source and Historic-UK suggest that it first came about as a way to use up leftover cooked meats. Although that does not appear to be a hard and fast rule of the dish. At least any more.
Originally a simple Indian stir fry with chicken and spices, the dish has evolved into something more akin to the curries we so love here in England. Now commonly served with a sauce, the dish remains crisp and fresh, with onion, pepper and tomato a potent part of the dish’s texture, rather than melted down and blended as in so many Indian dishes.
About this dish
My Jalfrezi chicken recipe does not incorporate anything I would describe as a sauce. But a tiny bit of tomato paste is added toward the end to help the spices coat the ingredients.
I have used simple spices common to Bengal, owing to the dish’s likely origin in that area of India. Cinnamon and coriander feature heavily, as does turmeric. Garam Masala is also used to create balance between the flavours.
I have written this recipe with uncooked chicken in mind. If you are using the pre-cooked meat for which the dish was originally created, just add it a little later. You want to cook it for long enough to warm through without going so far as to overcook and dry it out.
I like to serve this as a genuine Indian stir fry. By which I mean that I like to serve the dish as it is, rather than with rice. I imagine tradition would have had this dish be served with a side of rice, but we’re making enough that you can make that decision for yourself.
A quick guide | Jalfrezi Chicken Recipe
We will start by preparing everything and getting it all ready to cook. Chopping the onions, tomatoes, peppers and chillies means we can just throw them into the pot as and when we need to. We will also dice the chicken.
We’ll toast off any whole spices and grind them into a powder, mixing them with any additional spices to add to the dish at the same time.
We’ll make a paste from ginger and garlic, to be added after so as to retain some freshness. Although in this dish, because so many of the ingredients are being left crisp and fresh, the ginger and garlic paste will cook a little longer than in most of my recipes.
We will start by cooking the spices, then the paste, followed by our main ingredients. This guarantees they will remain crisp and fresh, rather than caramelising and softening too much. The onions, peppers and chillies will go into the pan at this stage.
Of the main ingredients, the chicken and tomatoes go in last because both are prone to overcooking. Following that, a tiny bit of tomato puree and any seasonings and garnishes we might need.
A few final things to remember
- I am using oil in this recipe because it is a common ingredient in people’s homes. Including mine! If you have ghee or are willing to make it, by all means use that instead.
- Be prepared in advance. Everything cooks quickly. It’s a stir fry after all!
- If you’re using leftover chicken in this recipe, add it during the last five minutes and no more. You don’t want it to go dry.
- The dish is supposed to be medium-hot. It’s not a crazy hot dish, but you do want a little spice in there. Ultimately, it’s up to you! You’re the one eating it.
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Jalfrezi Chicken Recipe | Indian Stir Fry
- 400 g Diced Chicken Leg
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 – 2 inches Fresh Ginger
- 1 lrg White Onion
- 2 Tomatoes
- 2 Bell Peppers any colour
- 2 – 6 sml Chillies
- 1 tsp Coriander
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 – 2 tsp Tomato Paste
- 2 Limes
- Fresh Coriander
- Peel and slice your onion, discarding any tough end pieces.
- Remove the stalk and core of your peppers, then halve and slice.
- Remove the stalks from the chillies, then halve lengthways.
- Cut your tomatoes into eighths.
- Toast 1 tsp coriander seeds and then grind to a fine powder, mixing with 1 tsp Garam Masala, 1/2 tsp Turmeric, 1/2 tsp Cinnamon & 1/2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper.
- Peel and finely dice your garlic and ginger, before grinding them together into a paste.
- If necessary, bone and dice your chicken. You want quite small pieces because we’re going to add them late in the cooking process.
- In a hot, oiled pan on a high heat, add your sliced pepper and fry until they begin to colour.
- Reduce the heat just a little. Add the garlic and ginger paste and fry that off for about a minute.
- Add the spices and do the same, cooking them off for a minute or so.
- Add the onion, chicken and chillies, stirring everything together and cooking until the chicken colours and is most of the way cooked. This will only take a few minutes.
- Add the sliced tomatoes and cook for a further minute or two, just to soften them.
- Finally, add the tomato paste and combine, reducing for a minute or two before seasoning with salt and a good splash of lime juice.
- Serve either on its own or with rice and garnish with fresh coriander.
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