Monday, May 24, 2010

chicken jalfrezi

One of the fun things about blogging is the great recipes. Last week Alaine posted a delicious looking chicken jalfrezi on her blog Eclectique. I just just had to give it a whirl. She was right, it was wonderful; a whole bouquet of bright flavors. It was such a big hit at the manor, it's going to be a regular dish. Thanks, Alaine!

I was unfamiliar with the term "jalfrezi", so of course I had to do a bit of poking around. Jalfrezi is a type of Indian curry in which marinated piece of meat or vegetables are fried in oil and spices to make a dry, thick sauce. It's cooked with green chilies, and can range in heat from a medium dish, to a very hot one. Typically those eating jalfrezi cool it down by combining it with cream.

From the times of the Mughals, when it was created as a way of using leftover meat, the chilies helped disguise any disagreeable taste. Okay, now that's really appetizing. The name comes indirectly from Bengali "jhal", meaning spicy food and Urdu "parhezi" meaning suitable for a diet.

6 chicken thighs marinated in:
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated - I used 2 heaped tsp minced
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated - or 2 heaped tsp minced
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala

2 med onions, peeled and thickly sliced or chopped
2 green peppers, de-seeded and sliced or cubed
1-2 green chillies, chopped (optional)
2 large tomatoes cut into wedges
2 tbsp oil or ghee
salt to taste

curry sauce:
2 tbsp ghee or oil
½ tsp chili powder, adjust to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
optional: You can add a couple of tablespoons of thick, natural yogurt or heavy cream at the last. (I did.)

Mix ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala and salt together. Coat chicken with this mix and allow to marinate for 2-3 hours.

Heat oil or ghee in a large frying pan, wok or kadhai. Add sliced onions, green chillies, green peppers and salt, fry for 10 minutes. Add tomato wedges, stir fry until onions become translucent and green peppers and tomatoes are half cooked, approximately 10 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Heat 2 tbsp oil or ghee in pan, add marinated, cut up chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes on high. Add chilli powder and tomato puree and simmer on low heat, until chicken is cooked. Stir-fry until excess sauce is evaporated and chicken looks well fried. Add fried vegetables, prepared earlier and stir-fry for a few minutes, until heated through.

Stir in yogurt/cream here, if used. Adjust seasoning, turn heat off, sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Note: I could not find garam masala anywhere in my neck of the woods, but found a great substitute online:

1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp crumbled bay leaves
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Serves: 4 regular sized portions or 3 piggy sized ones.


  1. Your usual mix of good writing, good research and good recipes. Bake together for forty minutes and serve.

  2. Sounds like a little trouble and unfamiliar territory for me. Wish I could just have a little taste.

  3. Shari, it's really not as complicated as it sounds. You just fry the veggies, then the meat and then combine them. Actually, it's very quick and easy.

  4. I am very lazy about cooking (less so about eating) and like to jest with my friends that my recipe book is actually a list of favorite dishes and the addresses of the people who prepare them well. The chicken jalfrezi sounds very appetizing so I may soon ask you for directions to the manor to see if I can enjoy it with you and WT.

  5. Ok now!! That looks delicioso!
    My husband would absolutely love this dish.. I think we will have to give it a go too! Thanks for posting & sharing with us & thanks to Alaine too!

  6. Gosh Willow, I'm sitting here scratching my head trying to work out how I'm going to 'adapt' this beauty into MOTH's Leaping Lipids No-Fat Ever Again diet. The aromas have drifted all the way across the Pacific - yum.
    Millie ^_^

  7. Jalfrezi is a favourite in the Magnon household; curry, of course, being the national dish of England. Lovely!

    Might do one for tomorrow. Bisou, Cro.

  8. oh i love a good curry...we will definitely try this...

    got my magpie out this morning as well...making the rounds...

  9. I make this regularly - love the heat and can't get enough coriander. Will keep your recipe and try it out!


    P.S. You should make some onion bhajis to go with it! (I've never done them, but I have all the ingredients.)

  10. Mmmmm! I love jalfrezi! And I have my own homemade garam masala around here somewhere.

  11. OMG. Thanks for this recipe! YUM. I'll try it for dinner tomorrow.

  12. This looks fabulous--I will definitely give this a try. Did you take the photograph? I am asking because I cannot ever get my food photos to turn out well. Althought I have a dinky (rather pitiful) little camera. Any tips?

  13. I am a huge curry fan; this looks delicious.

  14. Hi Lisa, yes, thanks, it's my photo. Food is tricky to photograph. My two cents? Set your camera on macro and use natural light!

  15. sounds delicious although i cant eat much in the way of spicy foods

  16. I tried to make some vegetarian Indian food last month - my husband and I agreed it wasn't quite on the money. I had to go to quite a few stores before I could find the garam masala as well.

  17. Suki, the great thing about this recipe is that you can adjust the spiciness. There's enough other wonderful flavors for this dish to stand on it's own without the heat.

  18. Your recipes always intrigue me!...this one is no exception and has been printed out...I love curries:)

  19. Sounds really yummy! We are big on curries and love to serve them with assorted side dishes, such as chopped apples soaked in fresh lemon juice, cut up bananas, also with lemon, chopped white onions doused with hot red pepper flakes, cucumbers in plain yogurt, chutney and crispy pappadums! I think all these side dishes were from British colonial times in India where the British army cooks would serve a Curry Lunch in the Officers' Mess after church! Probably with lashings of gin and tonics.

  20. Stop, Jane, stop! You're making me so hungry!! Is it lunchtime yet? It is now!

  21. Sounds great! I'll try this soon.

  22. I also tried Alaine's recipe after reading it on her blog and I agree - it was utterly delicious! I never knew that about Jalfrezi either, thanks for sharing your findings - as ever, you blog is eternal source of useful and interesting information.

  23. I saw this on Alaine's blog...thought it looked yummy!

  24. hmmmmmmmmmm, may try our small midwestern cities, i wouldn't be able to go order jalfrezi......sounds delish!

  25. Willow, so pleased that it was a hit at the manor! It's on the menu again this week; piggy portions are allowed now and then, followed by a long walk! xa

  26. I can only echo Cro Magnon's comment: we love it, and it's a regular Monday dish to use up the left-overs of the Sunday Roast.
    I'll give this recipe a whirl, thanks willow.

  27. I think I'll take a piggy size portion, please! Looks great!

  28. Sounds yummy--I am on the road and the food here isn't exactly "creative," shall we say, so that sounds awesome. Great photo of it, too!

  29. This is fabulous, I love curry, I like things a little hot and am always afraid of buying chilies
    I am printing this out and will leet ya know If I make it right..Thanks you dear heart


  30. Yum yum yum. Any recipe with the words ginger, peppers, curry, and marinate in it win my approval. Looking forward to trying this one out.

  31. Looks so yummy... your house must have the most wonderful smells coming from it on a daily basis!

  32. mmmmmmmmmmmm

    i've eaten it often but never cooked it myself


  33. Willow, that would be just great for the salt reduced diet I have been sentenced to for the rest of my life.
    On the other hand, there is LIFE.

    Cheers, Arija

  34. Hey Willow -

    Garam Masala (and many other middle eastern spices) are available and very inexpensive at most asian grocery stores. Google "asian grocery" in your zip code/area, and see what you come up with.

    If you can't find any, let me know and I'll mail you some. This is NY, and we have loads of asian/middle eastern grocery stores!

    I keep an entire drawer of garam masala, hot curry powder, red chili powder, paprika, turmeric, mustard seed, etc. etc. in my kitchen! The spice must flow!


  35. Marcheline, thanks for the tip. I'll look in the Asian grocery where I buy my rice!

  36. It sounds absolutely delish. I'm not a lover of spicy food but I don't mind trying different recipes. Thanks for posting this one.

    CJ xx

  37. It's fun to see what's cooking at your house. It looks and sounds delicious. I've tried some of your recipes and they are always tasty.

    You might enjoy reading this blog today:

  38. Dear Willow: Oh yum! I'm the only one in the family who love curry! I have found that the Tumeric spice is considered somewhat of a cure all and is loaded with antioxidants and is good for all sorts of ailments. I bought some just for putting in water and drinking, but on chicken it would taste so much better. Love exotic dishes! And peppers of all kinds!

  39. Oh, this looks wonderful...I can almost smell the aroma all the way in KY :)...I love curry so must give this a try.

  40. I see you're reading Muskoka Maharani. I'd never heard of it but Muskoka is one county over from where I grew up in Parry Sound in almost-Northern Ontario. The G-8 is happening in Muskoka in a town called Huntsville. Very timely.

    Bracebridge is actually a town in Muskoka. I see it's used as a person's name in the book.

    Ondaatje mentions Parry Sound on the last page of the English Patient and John Irving has a cottage 12 miles north. He's also written about the area in Last Night in Twisted River. So I'll have to read McMahon's book.

    Your recipe looks yummy by the way and I was startled to see the white background over here on the very day I went grey.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)