Indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi. Big, big flavours. It’s near the top of the list of favourite curries in the UK. It’s a bit different too. Kind of a Chinese thing going on with the large chunks of stir-fried onion and green pepper. Has a bit of a smoky taste. It’s medium hot unless you eat one of the signature big pieces of chili. Then it’s a hot curry. Definitely hot. But really, really tasty. You can even make a vegan version with paneer instead of chicken.
The key to the smoky taste is to get some blistering of the green pepper skin when doing the initial stir fry. Onions and green pepper go in to hot oil and cook until the edges of the onion turn brown and you start to get a bit of roasted pepper action. This gives it the smoky flavour. And you want the smoky flavour. That’s what this curry Indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi is all about.
This curry is prepared as they do in Indian restaurants. It’s heavy on the prep and lightning fast to make. You can make it with chicken or lamb. I’ve even seen paneer versions for a vegan alternative.
Do your prep before you get started. Make your curry base and have some heated and ready to go. Pre-cook your meat. Measure out your ingredients. Have everything ready. Put on an apron – a bit of splatter is part of the fun.
If you read the guide to Indian restaurant technique yet, do it now. It has pictures to help you understand the recipe. There’s also a guide to Indian ingredients in that post.
- 2 tsp indian restaurant spice mix or curry powder
- 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder or ¼ tsp cayenne mixed with ¾ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp kasoor methi
- ½ tsp tandoori masala
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 Tbsp oil
- ½ cup coarsely chopped green pepper
- ½ cup coarsely chopped onion
- 1 Tbsp garlic/ginger paste
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste with enough water to dilute to the consistency of pasatta
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro stems
- 15 oz curry base
- 10-12 oz pre-cooked chicken or lamb
- 2 finger hot green chilies, cut into half then split
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Make the spice mix.
- Dilute the tomato paste with enough water to get to the consistency of passata.
- Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add the oil. Use all the oil specified. It's important.
- When the oil starts to shimmer add the onions and green peppers and stir every few seconds. You want the green peppers to be skin side down as much as possible. Fry until the pepper starts to blister and the onion edges turn brown.
- Next comes the garlic ginger paste. Add it into the pan and cook it, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
- Turn down the heat and add the spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn.
- Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form (the oil will likely separate). This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
- Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here.
- Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked lamb, beef or chicken and the green chilies.
- Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they are heated through.
- Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.
Indian restaurants pre-cook their meat so it's ready for service. This recipe assumes the same. To pre-cook chicken, simply simmer it with a bit of curry powder and salt in chicken stock for about 10-15 minutes - until it's barely cooked.
To pre-cook lamb or beef, do the same but plan for 1 to ½ hours for lamb and 2 hours or more for beef. You are making stew meat so you are braising until tender. You will need to keep an eye on the level of the stock. For beef use beef stock.