This spicy chicken jalfrezi will heat you up while keeping the calories down. Despite its popularity among Britain’s curry houses, it’s technically considered a stir-fry.
What is Chicken Jalfrezi?
Chicken jalfrezi has proved popular throughout British curry houses, and many different versions of the curry have appeared throughout the country. It typically consists of meat and veg cubes in a spicy sauce. However, to British cooks and diners, bell peppers separate a jalfrezi from other popular curries.
Why Chicken Jalfrezi?
Jalfrezi can be made with vegetables for a vegan alternative or paneer for a vegetarian option. Lamb and beef can also be used, but some tougher cuts may detract from the original dish’s traditional stir-fried elements.
Traditionally, chicken jalfrezi utilises leftover chicken. Stir-frying reheated the leftover meat quickly cooks quickly and reduces overcooking. The thick jalfrezi sauce will also help keep the reheated chicken moist. Here, fresh chicken is cooked with spices and then simmered in the sauce until cooked through
The Three Steps to a Perfect Chicken Jalfrezi
Marinating the Chicken
Before cooking the chicken, we first need to marinate it. The marinade here serves two functions. One, it seasons the meat, allowing the flavours to develop that aren’t often lost through quick cooking. Secondly, the acidity in the lemon juice will tenderise the chicken breast.
Making a Base Sauce
Making a base sauce for this chicken Jalfrezi or any curry may look complicated, but it is pretty simple. It’s similar to a tomato sauce when making an arabiatta, except it utilises more spices. Here, the sauce is blended with whole spices. Whole spices such as cumin and coriander lose much of the flavour once ground, so the sauce tastes fuller with freshly toasted whole spices. Once the onions are soft, the sauce is ready to blend.
Making the Curry
To make the curry may be a misleading title as it’s more like finishing the chicken jalfrezi. However, it involves cooking the chicken and seasoning the final curry. The vegetables used here include peppers and white onions. However, the most noteworthy addition is a spice mix called garam masala.
Garam Masala is an aromatic spice mixture made from ground spices. It’s a typical Indian seasoning, and exact recipes vary from region to region and family to family. It’s typically used at the end to finish a dish in the same manner as salt or pepper.
For The Chicken
- 4 Chicken Breasts Cut into Cubes
- 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
- 1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 ½ Tsp Salt
- Juice from 1 Lemon
For the Sauce
- 45 ml Sunflower Oil
- 1 Large White Onion Chopped
- 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds
- 3 Garlic Cloves Chopped
- 1 Thumb Sized Piece of Ginger Peeled and Grated
- ½ Tsp Ground Turmeric
- 2 Green Chillies Roughly Chopped
- 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
- 1 400 g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 150 ml Water
- Salt to taste
For the Curry
- 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 White Onion Cut into Large Chunks
- 1 Red Pepper Deseeded and Cut into 2.5cm Pieces
- 1 Green Pepper Deseeded and Cut into 2.5cm Pieces
- 1 Tsp Garam Masala
- 10 g Coriander Leaves Chopped
To Marinate the Chicken
- In a bowl, combine the spices, lemon juice, and chicken and mix well. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
To Make the Sauce
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Fry the onions with the cumin and coriander seeds until the onions begin to brown. Stir in the chillies, turmeric, garlic, and ginger and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, and water. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft enough to blend.
- Blitz the sauce until smooth and season to taste with salt.
To Make the Curry
- Heat a separate pan over medium-high heat, add ½ of the sunflower oil, and fry the chicken until it begins to brown. Fry in batches to ensure an even colouring and prevent the chicken from boiling in its own juice. Set the chicken aside and wipe the pan clean.
- In the same pan, add the remaining oil, and fry the onions for 2-3 minutes until they begin to brown. Add the peppers and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan and add the sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Add the garam masala and chopped coriander. Season to taste with salt, and serve with naan bread.