chicken tikka jalfrezi – Indian hotel style

Want something that’s really long on taste? Slam you in the face flavour? Indian hotel style chicken tikka jalfrezi fits the bill.

Stop and think about it. Chicken jalfrezi is a big curry. Toss in some chicken tikka and it’s huge. Wrap it up in Indian hotel style gravy and it’s completely over the top.

Lightly charred peppers. Green chilies. Onions. Chicken tikka. Tomatoes. And a whole lot of spice. This is a curry for people who want it turned up to 10.

Think I’m talking it up too much? Try it yourself. You’ll see.

Chicken tikka jalfrezi in a kadai from the front

Indian hotel style is a whole new way to cook

That’s actually not actually true. Hotel style is an old way to cook. Fine Indian restaurants have been doing it forever. But it’s probably not what you think of when you think Indian restaurant cooking.

There are a ton of restaurant style curries on glebekitchen. I love those. Make them all the time.

But when I really want to pull out all the stops I go for hotel style. Hotel style takes those restaurant concepts and builds on them. Think fine dining. What they are serving in the posh restaurants.

Restaurant style is what most of the Indian restaurants do. Some do it better. Some worse. Usually you can do better yourself. If you try.

Hotel style is what’s going on in the kitchens of the restaurants you can’t get into. The really good ones. Chicken tikka jalfrezi fine dining style.

It’s something to think about. If you want to really step up your curries, Indian hotel style is hard to beat.

Table scene chicken tikka jalfrezi, rice and dal palak from above.

Blister your peppers for great chicken tikka jalfrezi

This is critical. Makes a huge difference. You have to get some blistering on your peppers. That’s what makes jalfrezi what it is.

There was a time I didn’t do this. And I was never impressed with the results. Jalfrezi was pretty low on my list.

Then I discovered what a difference blistering the peppers makes. How a bit of char on the edge of the onions adds the wow.

Just a hint of smoky flavour makes it work. Really well. Now jalfrezi sits pretty high on my list.

Closeup of spoon in a bowl of chicken tikka jalfrezi from the front

You need tikka for chicken tikka jalfrezi

Kind of obvious. I know. But there are a lot of ways to make chicken tikka. Some are more elaborate than others.

Some have yoghurt. I don’t think I would use one of those here. I don’t actually ever put yoghurt in my tandoori. Learned that trick in Bangalore and never looked back.

But you can make whatever tikka recipe works for you. I’ve included an easy one you can make in your oven.

I used the specified marinade for these pictures. Cooked it in the oven. Charcoal is better. Always. But there’s so much going on the smoke kind of gets lost.

Works on the grill. Works in the oven. The important thing is you don’t overcook it. That’s dry chicken. And that will kill any chicken tikka jalfrezi. Always nail your chicken first. And go from there.

You can go full bore on your chicken tikka. That’s better for sure. If you want to put the time in. But I do my full blown chicken tikka when I’m eating tikka. When there’s nowhere to hide. When every detail matters.

This chicken tikka jalfrezi is not a subtle curry. So the nuances get lost. And simple tikka is probably good enough. Your call though. Not like I don’t go completely overboard with the details on glebekitchen.

Chicken tikka jalfrezi in a kadai with rice and dal palak from above.

Naga or not?

This recipe works two ways. As written, it’s the best chicken tikka jalfrezi I know how to make. Take a winner and add hotel curry gravy. Pretty hard to beat.

I like it a lot. With just that hint of naga from the marinade. A subtle note.

But I like naga pickle. It’s crazy hot. But it’s crazy delicious. In a really assertive way. It doesn’t complement here. It changes the dish. To a naga chicken tikka jalfrezi.

That’s a completely different beast. Naga is a flavour sledgehammer. Nothing subtle about it.

So it’s your call. Make it as written. That’s great. Or add naga. That’s great too. Tough call. Try a drip of naga in a spoonful of sauce. And then decide.

Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong…

Chicken tikka jalfrezi in a kadai from above
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4.93 from 28 votes

Chicken tikka jalfrezi

Flavour on flavour is what this chicken tikka jalfrezi is all about.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chicken tikka curry, chicken tikka jalfrezi
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 720kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


Quick naga chicken tikka

  • 4 chicken thighs – boneless, skinless. Cut each thigh into 3 even pieces.
  • 2 tbsp tandoori masala – available from any Indian grocer. Look for a brand that isn't all salt.
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled between your fingers
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt – if your tandoori seasoning has a lot of salt leave this out.
  • 1/4 tsp naga pickle – available from most Indian grocers (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

The spice mix

  • 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix – recipe link below
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 tsp tandoori masala – again, watch out for the high salt content brands.
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

chicken tikka jalfrezi

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil – any neutral oil is fine
  • 1/2 cup onion – coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper – coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste – recipe link below
  • 1 cup Indian hotel curry gravy – recipe link below. Dilute it with 4 tbsp water.
  • chicken tikka – whatever chicken tikka you like
  • 2 jwala green chili aka finger hots – seeded and cut in half and then into 1 inch pieces (for a total of 6-8 pieces). You can add more. This is a jalfrezi after all.
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes – halved


Do your prep

  • Make your spice mix. Cut up your green chilies, onion, green pepper and tomatoes. Make your naga chicken tikka – or whatever chicken tikka you prefer. Have everything ready.
  • DIlute your curry gravy with 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) of chicken stock. You need to dilute it because the chicken is going in pre-cooked.

Make your quick naga chicken tikka

  • Combine the tandoori masala, kasoor methi, salt (if necessary), naga pickle and oil in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken. This is your chicken marinade. It does not go into the final curry.
  • Add the chicken and combine with the marinade. Use tongs. This stuff will stain your fingers.
  • Marinate for about an hour. Pre-heat your oven to 400F while this is going on. Place a sturdy baking sheet in the oven to pre-heat.
  • Transfer the chicken (again, use tongs) to that pre-heated, sturdy but not too large baking sheet (can you tell the pre-heated pan is important?). Place in the oven. Cook for about 6 minutes. Flip all the pieces and return to the oven.
  • Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. This should take another 4-8 minutes or so. Really depends on how big your chicken thigh pieces are. Remove the chicken from the baking sheet. Set aside.
  • You have a bit extra so snack on a piece or two if you must. I know I can never resist so I added an extra thigh to the recipe. Enjoy. Guilt free. If you aren't hungry they can go into the curry. Fine either way.

Make the chicken tikka jalfrezi

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan until the oil just starts to shimmer.
  • Add the onions and green peppers and stir every few seconds. Keep the peppers skin side down as much as you can. Fry until the pepper starts to blister and the onion edges turn brown.
  • Stir in the garlic ginger paste. Cook until the garlic ginger paste stops sputtering.
  • Turn your heat down to medium low and add your spice mix. This is why you need to use all the oil. You want to fry your spices. Too little oil and you risk your spices sticking or burning. Nothing you can do will fix burned spices.
  • It might look a little dry after frying the onions and peppers. You want the spices in oil. Not a dry paste. If it does look dry add a spash of oil immediately. Cook your spices for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the Indian hotel curry gravy. Stir it really well to get the oil to combine with the curry gravy. You want everything mixed together at this point. Bring to a simmer.
  • Cover loosely and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken tikka and the green chilies. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes to warm the chicken through. Add the tomatoes and cook another minute or so. At this point your sauce is going to be a little thick. Stir in a tablespoon or two of chicken stock or water to get the consistency you want. As much liquid as you need. This step is feel.
  • Taste. You have a decision to make. A 1/4 tsp of naga pickle mixed in at this point is a nice touch. It kicks the heat up though but it does add a distinctive flavour you can't get any other way. I like it both ways. Depends on my mood. The more classic jalfrezi leaves it out. Up to you.
  • Serve with rice, dal and Indian flatbreads of your choice.


Naga pickle is hot stuff. I love the taste. This is a jalfrezi so it can stand a little heat and, as written, this recipe is really just on the high side of medium hot. Try it in the tikka. If you really love naga think about making this a naga chicken tikka jalfrezi. It’s a nice twist.
Make your Indian hotel curry gravy ahead of time. It takes time to make so think about doing it the day before.
I use this Indian restaurant spice mix in most of my Indian restaurant style curries.
For maximum flavour you should consider making your garlic ginger paste from scratch.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 720kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 194mg | Sodium: 2022mg | Potassium: 1148mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 878IU | Vitamin C: 62mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 6mg

34 thoughts on “chicken tikka jalfrezi – Indian hotel style”

  1. 5 stars
    This was amazing! Tastes so good. Although i fried the chicken parts in a pan. Worked out flawlessly. Accidentally the chicken parts were marinated about 48 hours. The flavour could be worse… 😉 . Thank you for the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I made the hotel gravy the day before I tried this recipe and it was amazing. The depth of flavours was fantastic and it’s really elevated my curry making. I’m going to try the Karala curry next but the Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi will take some beating. Thanks for all your hard work in creating these recipes.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Roman this one is just smashing, especially the taste the blistered pepper brings, thanks matey. Just a quick question: would this recipe work with whole chicken thighs ( skin off, bones on)? Thanks again

    • Absolutely. If you are using whole thighs done as tikka just warm them through a little longer. If you are using raw thighs (not tikka) then you can follow the technique described in any hotel style recipe that uses raw chicken but you will need to adjust cooking times upwards. The chicken will throw some liquid as it cooks so you won’t need to add any additional liquid.

  4. 5 stars
    This has jumped into 1st place for my husband and friends! i unfortunately didn’t get to sample it as i out the chicken stock in without thinking and i’m vegetarian. I found the base harder to make that the other, as the onions took sooooo long and wanted to burn! Kathi rolls? tonight, currently marinating quorn and chicken with the amazing peppers and onions fish i made last week for the shashlic?? whatever it was it was amazing!!!! vegetarian food was so boring until i found you!!! Brilliant. thanks.

    • Hotel style is more work up front for sure but the results are so worth it IMO. A big pot, preferably something enamelled cast iron, makes this easier.

      And I’m delighted to hear you are enjoying the recipes. Thank you for saying:-)

  5. Hi Romain,
    I’m making this tonight for 4 people am I safe to just double the recipe or should I stick to the same recipe and make two batches.
    Thanks Chris

    • Sorry – busy day at work so just getting to this late.

      The challenge with restaurant style is mostly around getting a big enough pan to fry things well if you scale up. Hotel style takes care of the Maillard reaction up front so it scales really well.

  6. Hi Romain,

    I just made this dish but substituted leftover Tandoori chicken from last night (I only ever use thighs). I de-boned the chicken first, and nice charcoal flavour.

    I live in MTL. I went to 3 different Indian groceries today and could not find Naga Chilli Pickle… The staff never even heard of it. (I suppose they are not Bengali). One owner said that “India is a big country”. Haha.

    I guess they have it in Ottawa?

    • Huh. That surprises me. Pran is the easiest brand to find here. It’s not super common here either but it does show up. I just did a search on Amazon and maybe there’s a shortage right now? I have a collection of brands sent to me from the UK so I haven’t needed to stock up for quite some time.

    • I did in fact manage to find exactly that Pran brand at a Bangladeshi grocery today. I guess it makes sense. You don’t grow oranges in Quebec, and you don’t make maple syrup in Florida. Same thing for regions of India. There’s no one size fits all grocery. Cheers.

  7. 5 stars
    This was sensational! Used 1/4 tsp Mr Naga in marinade, and added 1/4 later on as suggested. Wow, absolutely perfect, but might try a 1/2 later if I get brave. Fabulous, awesome, brilliant, glad I made double!

    • This recipe calls for one cup of gravy diluted with 4 tbsp of liquid (water or no sodium chicken stock). You will also likely need to dilute the final dish with another couple tablespoons of liquid.

      Every hotel style recipe is different. Some get some diluted with coconut milk. Some get the benefit of the juices thrown by cooking the chicken in the gravy.

  8. 5 stars
    This was outstanding! Half a teaspoon of naga pickle gave the perfect amount of heat. Like the commenter above. I couldn’t stop eating it! Off to make a new batch of hotel gravy.

    • Delighted to hear that. A little naga pickle is never a bad thing. Somebody made me start thinking I need some in my butter chicken today!

    • You will be fine. It won’t be quite the same (a little sweeter pepper flavour) but it will be really pretty.

  9. 5 stars
    this is great! my husband complains that he can’t stop eating it :).
    unfortunately couldn’t find naga pickle in the nearby stores. substituted with red chili pickle.

  10. Hello Romain,
    Can you tell me how far in advance can any of your recipes be made in advance… a dinner party with 4 or 5 different dishes it is pretty hard to do them all at the last minute….any suggestions? I was thinking of a couple of the hotel style dishes and maybe a butter chicken, rice pilou, a potato dish and maybe something with prawns…seems like a lot to conquer
    any help or suggestions would be welcomed

    • That would be an exhausting menu for one day. You could make the three curries the day ahead and gently warm them on the stove for dinner. The rice could also be made ahead and microwaved although that is easy enough to make day of the party. Potatoes you could make as your guests nibble on snacks. Anything with prawns I would make immediately before easting. Prawns do not reheat well at all…

  11. 5 stars
    This is amazing Romain. Just inspired…

    Can I ask if you plan any king prawn recipes? I’ve tried king prawn tandoori and jalfrezi but the ‘meat’ comes out too tough – even if I just flash it in a 300 degC oven then bang in the sauce at the end? Even if I use bigger prawns….
    Any tips or tricks I’m missing? I’ve equalled or beaten my local (decent) take away in every other department!

    • Thank you. I’m just loving the hotel style results!

      I do plan to do some prawn curries. For some reason I just never seem to get around to it.

      Shrimp are super touchy. I gently poach my shrimp and then just warm them up in the sauce. Have a look at the shrimp cocktail recipe for the technique. I wouldn’t use a strongly flavoured court bouillon – maybe just the shells and salt. Cut the time by one minute to give yourself a buffer as the shrimp will cook a bit in the curry. For me slightly underdone is infinitely better than overdone.

      I have also heard restaurants butterfly and deep fry. I haven’t tried that yet but definitely plan to give that a go before I post anything.

  12. 5 stars
    Wow, five stars again!
    Just fabulous, Romain. Your recipes are exceptional and may I say, a huge big thank you for what you do. It is so appreciated!

  13. Just made this, my tastebuds are Dancing in the Moonlight 🙂 So tasty, better than my local Indian which is very good 😀

  14. Love your restaurant style curries, but if someone cannot take a hotter style is there a way to make these hotel style ones but take some of the heat out?

    • Absolutely.

      1) If the recipe calls for naga pickle leave it out. Naga is really hot.

      2) Make sure you use Kashmiri chilli powder. Kashmiri is a milder chili powder. Not as hot as many other Indian chili powders. If that’s still too hot try reducing the quantity a bit.

      3) Seed green chilies if you want the flavour without the heat. Most of the fire is in the membrane/ribs in chili peppers. Also, make sure you get the larger jwala finger hots. The little ones tend to be hotter.

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