indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi

Indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi. Big, bold flavours. Just like they serve at your favourite Indian restaurant. Except this is one you can make it yourself. 

This isn’t one of those recipes that promise to come close to Indian restaurant jalfrezi. This is the way they do it in restaurants. Seriously. Exactly like they make chicken jalfrezi in restaurants.

The whole approach might seem a little different from what you’ve seen before. That’s because it’s not fakeaway. This is the real deal. Restaurant technique. Restaurant results.

If you go for it you will surprise yourself. Could even be an “aha” moment. I know it was for me. Took me years to figure this out.

Full disclosure – this is an updated post. I’ve rewritten it, taken new pictures and added a video. But the recipe itself has not changed in any way.

Front view of restaurant chicken jalfrezi with curries and rice in the background.

Restaurant technique for restaurant results

The first thing you need to know restaurant style is completely different. There’s no slow browning of onions. That lush sauce? It comes from using a thing called curry base.

Curry base is this kind of weak onion soup. Vaguely curry flavoured. Not particularly tasty on its own.

Bland by design really. Think of it as the canvas you paint your curries on. The spices. The chilies. The onions. The peppers. That’s how you take curry base and make a great chicken jalfrezi.

The Maillard reaction is the secret weapon here. When the curry base hits the hot oil magic happens.

Actually science happens. Amino acids, reducing sugars and heat. That generates millions of flavour compounds. It’s the same thing that happens when you brown meat. Or bake bread. It touches your life every day.

And it’s what makes restaurant style curry technique possible.

Chicken jalfrezi in a kadai surrounded by curries, dal and and rice.

Bloom your spices for maximum flavour

Blooming spices is a fancy way of saying fry your spices in oil. That’s another key restaurant technique.

There are oil soluble flavour compounds in powdered spices. Blooming the spices extracts that flavour into the oil. And that oil carries those flavours into every bite.

That smell that wafts out of Indian restaurants as you walk by? That’s the smell of blooming spices. And it makes a big difference.

Watch your heat. If it looks like things are going sideways pick up the pan. Get it off the heat.

You need enough oil in the pan to do this. You want the spices well coated in oil. Spices bubbling in oil.

This is not diet food. And cutting back on the oil is going to get you in trouble. The spices will stick. Or burn. If you burn your spices you are starting over. There’s no fixing that.

Do it right though, and you will be making curries that amaze.

Blistered peppers make great chicken jalfrezi

I used to wonder why I didn’t always love Indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi. Sometimes it was great. A really fabulous dish. Other times I’d be asking someone to pass me the tarka dal instead.

Took me a long time to figure out what the difference was. Where the magic came from. Turns out it comes from a hint of smoky flavour. Simple once you know.

That smoky flavour comes from frying the peppers and onions hard. You want to see the skin of the peppers blister. The edges of the onions turn brown. That’s the trick. Nothing to it.

That’s what makes Indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi special. So push it a bit. Really go for it.

Restaurant style Indian cooking means restaurant prep

This is cooking restaurant style. That means 10 minutes start to finish. There’s not time to wander of to chop things once you’ve started. You need to move like they do in restaurants.

And you need to be ready like they are in restaurants. They have everything prepped and ready to go. You do to.

The French call this mise en place. That means everything in its place. Vegetables chopped. Spices measured out. Chicken pre-cooked. Curry base warming at the side.

Everything ready to go. It’s not hard if you take the time to do your prep. It’s a trainwreck waiting to happen if you don’t.

Don’t let that scare you. It’s 10 minutes of prep. And then you are good to go. It’s fun cooking this way. And the results will amaze you. Nothing here not to like.

I have some things to help you make the jump. There’s a guide to Indian restaurant technique complete with a video explaining things in detail.

You can do this. You should do this. It’s a bit of a leap. But once you’re on the other side you will never look back.

Indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi. Try it. You may never go for takeaway again…

Chicken jalfrezi from above.
Chicken jalfrezi from above.
Print Pin
4.65 from 31 votes

indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi

Indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi is all about big, bold, smoky flavours. Make sure you really blister your peppers to get the full experience.
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 509kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen

Ingredients

The spice mix

  • 2 tsp indian restaurant spice mix or curry powder – recipe link below
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder or 1/4 tsp cayenne mixed with 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 tsp tandoori masala
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

The curry ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp neutral oil – e.g vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp garlic/ginger paste – recipe link below
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste with enough water to dilute to the consistency of pasatta
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro stems – finely chopped
  • 15 oz curry base – recipe link below
  • 10-12 oz pre-cooked chicken or lamb
  • 2 finger hot green chilies cut into half then split
  • 4 cherry tomatoes halved

Instructions

  • 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 and the cilantro stems. Add them into the pan and cook it, stirring constantly, until the garlic ginger paste 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.

Notes

Make your curry base gravy ahead of time.
I use this Indian restaurant spice mix in all my Indian restaurant style curries.
For maximum flavour you really should make your garlic ginger paste from scratch.
If you haven’t read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking.
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 1/2 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 2servings | Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 1166mg | Potassium: 990mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 870IU | Vitamin C: 49.5mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 2.1mg

80 thoughts on “indian restaurant chicken jalfrezi”

  1. 5 stars
    Romain, this is just amazing, I mean amazing! this has blown my mind, so many flavours and so easy if you do the prep! and the prep is important and makes it as easy as 1, 2 and 3!! my tastebuds are salivating as I type, don’t take my word for it, try it, the base curry and Indian spice step again is key, you will be amazed.

    Regards

    Welwynmick

    Reply
    • This is exactly why what I do what I do. I am absolutely delighted to hear this. Now that you understand the technique there is no stopping you!

  2. Hi Romain, been BIR dabbling a while now and your tip on blistering was an inspiration! Will be trying the tikka jalfrezi hotel style very soon. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your findings on here…away to browse more!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, I’ve been BIR dabbling a while now and the tip on blistering was an inspiration! Loved it will be trying the tikka jalfrezi hotel style soon- thank you so much for taking the time to share your findings!

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Really great recipe and comes out exactly like a restaurant. I lightly fry some sliced Scotch Bonnets to add a sweet and smoky flavour.

    Reply
  5. 4 stars
    I think your recipes are brilliant mate. I really like your videos too. Keep up the good work , from. Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿👍

    Reply
  6. Ah, yeah I found that one now. Very good video.

    Another thing. I got really, really thirsty after I ate my first batch of indian food from one of these recipes, using curry base and all of that good stuff. 🙂

    Do you think that is just me being unused to very spicy food? Or do you think I perhaps did something wrong, which made the course really water absorbing or something? Perhaps too much spices and too dry chicken?

    I don’t expect you to necessarily know the answer to this but maybe you have some tips.

    Reply
    • Thirsty makes me think salt. All the recipes on glebekitchen call for kosher salt. It is a coarser salt so less sodium by volume. If you are using regular table salt you should use about 2/3 of the specified amount.

  7. Hi

    I have noticed that when I precook chicken-filets, which I do in a broth that I save for chicken soup, they often become quite dry, after I have taken them out of that cooking water.

    I store them in the fridge for a day or two, after I have cooked them, until I make indian food with those filets. But they become a bit dry I think.

    Is there any way around this? Is it possible to make them more moist somehow in, or after, the cooking process?

    Reply
    • If you check my YouTube channel I cover pre-cooking chicken in a video there.

      Thighs are much more forgiving than white meat for starters. Beyond that I can suggest 2 things.

      1) Dry brine your chicken. This gives you a little buffer in terms of potentially overcooking.

      2) Cook to a target internal temperature of no more than 160F for white and 170F for dark. You can even go a little lower.

  8. Hi Romain I’m going to try this jalfrezi dish for the first time, if I wanted to to make tikka style how would I do this without a tandoori oven?

    Andrew

    Reply
    • I usually use a BBQ but if that’s not an option I like to roast the chicken in a 400F oven. You don’t need to skewer them or anything. Just put them on a sturdy, pre-heated baking sheet. Shake off the excess tandoori marinade. Make sure there is room between the pieces. Roast for about 5 minutes and them flip. Cook another few minutes (until the chicken registers about 160F for breast or 170F for dark). If you like, the juices in the pan make a nice bit of extra flavour when added to the dish. Just be sure to watch your salt.

  9. Hi, I want to try this, it sounds delicious. And since I already made the curry base, I’m ready to go. I have one question though: you insist on not using a non-stick pan. I’m not going to ask why (it’s kinda obvious), but I don’t really have one. All I have is non-stick pans plus a tiny steel pot (definitely too small, I guess) and a cast iron pan. Can/should I use the latter? Or would that ruin the patina on it? Normally we use it for steaks and fried eggs.

    Reply
    • Cast iron is tricky because it’s a big thermal mass and so isn’t responsive. You can run into trouble when you add the spices if the pan is too hot. I’d go with non-stick in your case. Once you get comfortable with the technique you could try cast iron. Or maybe invest in a cheap aluminium pan from a restaurant supply store if you get into it.

      As far as the patina goes – I wouldn’t risk that for anything.

    • Hi Romain,

      Just wanted to let you know that enameled cast iron does work well with cooking the curry. It might take a bit more time to bloom the spices, and you definitely have to turn down (or off) the flame, lest you burn the spices, but I get consistent flavor each time. EVerything does take a little longer as the pot is much less responsive than a 3-layer aluminium pan.
      The curry discolors the enamel slightly, but it isn’t a matter for me.

      Thanks for the recipes!

    • That’s impressive. It’s tricky working with something that moves that slowly thermally. I can do it with a stainless pan but I find cast iron pretty difficult.

      My challenge is heating up the cast iron enough to get it hot enough to really fry the curry base without burning the spices. I do homestyle/traditional in enamelled cast iron but restaurant style in something I’m still not really able to do do well.

      My enamelled cast iron pots are well discoloured by now as well. Badge of honour I think :-).

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, love your recipes – all without exception producing excellent tasting food, with clear easy to follow instructions. Thank you. I wondered if you had any plans to bring these together and publish in a book? Regards

    Reply
    • Thank you for saying. I’m glad you’re finding things you enjoy cooking here.

      I’m getting asked that more and more but I work full time and glebekitchen is my hobby so I just don’t have the time to put together a book right now.

  11. Before leaving the UK some 23 years ago to live in California i used to regularly eat at The Taste of Raj in Richmond Surrey. My favorite dish was Chicken Jalfrezi and i have never been able to find a restaurant in the USA that can replicate that amazing taste. Even the Vindaloo and Phall curry’s are mild compared to the UK versions ? I have used this recipe a few times and it comes near to replicating the restaurant taste i do add some extra green chilies to bring the heat level up to my requirements.

    Reply
    • Glad you like it. Almost everything is spiced medium hot on glebekitchen so people can turn the heat up if they desire. More green chilies, a hot chili powder instead of Kashmiri or even a little bit of naga pickle should fix you right up. Note that the naga pickle will change the flavour profile as well.

    • Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I though I’d specified in all the recipes but I missed this one. Any neutral oil works. Personally I use canola.

    • I’m going to assume you are using the curry base from glebekitchen, pre-cooking your chicken and not trying to double or triple the recipe. If you are all these then I would guess you aren’t frying your dish hard enough when you are adding the curry base.

      The restaurant technique relies on really pushing the contents of the pan to generate the Maillard compounds that are key to the flavour development. Evaporation is a by-product and thickens the base to a restaurant curry consistency. Not pre-cooking the chicken results in the liquid thrown by the chicken diluting the curry. Doubling or tripling makes it very hard to push the frying hard as there is so much curry base over the same surface area in your pan.

      I’ve made literally hundreds (and possibly thousands) of curries using these techniques and I have never once had one turn out runny. Quite the opposite. Sometimes I need to add a bit of base at the end to thin the curry down.

  12. have cooked this twice. Makes me feel like a champion indian chef!
    So delicious…. and recipe so precise.
    I love it!
    thank you
    PS the curry base is essential

    Reply
  13. 5 stars
    I’m working my way through your recipes Romain and using up my “curry base”. This one was incredible, I kind of knew it would be! You are such a great person to share these recipes and bring such delight and comfort into our homes and hearts. I am truly grateful, and so is my family.

    Reply
    • That is just so nice to hear. Thank you. I’m so glad you and your family are enjoying my little corner of the internet!

  14. 5 stars
    LOVE this recipe! Just cooked it and it tasted amazing. Just one question though – my dish was swimming in sauce compared to the photo here. Is the sauce supposed to reduce a lot when you simmer it for 5 minutes?

    Reply
    • The sauce reduces some when you fry the curry base before you add the chicken and maybe a bit more when you simmer. As long as it tasted good I’m sure it was delicious!

  15. 5 stars
    Jalfrezi has always been one of my favourite Indian dishes and this one is great. I prefer a few more green chillies though – for taste and heat.
    Oh, and take heed of the instructions to blister the peppers, it makes a whole lot of difference to the final taste.

    Reply
    • I never really understood jalfrezi until I blistered the peppers. Complete game changer for me. And great to hear you are tweaking the recipes to suit your palate. I love it when people make these recipes their own!

  16. Good God this recipe ? I didn’t read it properly at first and thought it was a quick curry… ended up spending over 2 hrs in the kitchen but fair to say I’ll never look back. Followed the recipe precisely (although only 1/2 quantity base and spice mix) minus the dried fenugreek and ??? lol my partner thinks he’s died and gone to heaven… can’t wait to try the others. Thanks for this, you know exactly what I didn’t know. In the UK they give OBEs out for this level of genius. All the flavour of a good carry out with all the joy of knowing where the meat came from (free range, obvs). I’m so happy. Thankyou ???

    Reply
    • I appreciate your perspective but unfortunately I picked one when I started glebekitchen and being Canadian I went with the one that is most prevalent here. Sorry I didn’t do it the UK way…

      I use my scale in grams too. Just not when I blog.

    • Thank you for saying so. I have no plans to do a cookbook at this point. I am working on some instructional type videos though.

  17. 5 stars
    Unbelievable !!!
    I have cooked hundreds of curry dishes over the years. I’ve just finished this Chicken jalfrezi, and oh my days it is by far the best curry I have ever cooked. I honestly don’t think I will ever buy a takeaway again!
    Absolutely superb. I had to write this review immediately. I’m now going to spend a little time in paradise eating this dish with a garlic and coriander naan. Thank you, have a wonderful Xmas and happy New Year.

    Reply
    • That is awesome to hear. I’m so glad to have helped you on your way to this moment! You have a wonderful Christmas and happy new year as well!

  18. 5 stars
    I have tried dozens of online recipes that claim to be for restaurant style jalfrezi and they never turn out right.

    I followed yours and made the base gravy as suggested and wow it turned out amazing. In fact it is better than the jalfrezi I can buy at my local takeaways. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and techniques. I only wish I had made more base gravy to freeze!!

    Looking forward to trying some more of your curry recipes that uses the base gravy, any you would suggest that are spicy similar to a jalfrezi?

    Thanks once again!

    Reply
    • Glad this one did the trick! All the restaurant style curries here are similarly spiced (medium hot) so pick one that suits your fancy. You can always add a bit more chili powder if you want it spicier.

  19. 5 stars
    Absolutely amazing – thank you so much for sharing the methods and recipes to allow us to cook restaurant style Indian food. I went shopping at our local Indian food supermarket at the weekend, which is now on my list of must-visit-regularly shops, and bought all the harder to find ingredients and I made up the Spice Mix, Curry Base and Garlic & Ginger Paste and pre-cooked some chicken ready to try out this Jalfrezi recipe, and couldn’t believe how amazing it tasted! I have just gotten some of the frozen curry base out of the freezer ready to cook it again tonight, this time with Sweet potato and chick peas. Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge, and the method of how to cook it – my life is transformed 🙂 I have also sent the link to all my work colleagues who are all dying to try it out too!

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment and for sharing with your colleagues. This is exactly why I created glebe kitchen. I’m so glad it helped you learn.

  20. Hi Romain,
    Thanks for your quick response and advice! I am now posting immediately after making both the bhuna and jalfrezi with a big smug grin on my face! I’ve been trying to cook like this for ages. The only deviations from your recipes was that I had to use ground fenugreek because I couldn’t get hold of any leaves but only used half tsp, and I couldn’t get any tarmarind sauce so just left it out. Wow amazing ? thank you very much I want to tell everyone but also want to keep this to myself ?. Next time I will make sure I have tarmarind sauce and see if I can tell the difference.

    Paul ??

    Reply
    • Paul – tell everyone! Great to hear you liked it. Tamarind sauce adds a little tang. You’ll know when you taste it.

  21. Hi Romain,
    I love to cook a curry for friends on a weekend wherever possible. I have always wondered how the resteraunts and takeaways manage to get that distinctive taste and consistency, so when I stumbled across your site I was well pleased! I made the base last night and I’m planning on doing a bhuna or jalfrezi tonight, is it ok to double ingredients to make a larger batch for say 4 people or do I need to stick to 2 portion batches?

    Paul ?

    Reply
    • Hi Paul,

      It is better to cook two batches. The recipe doesn’t scale linearly and you want to be able to put lots of heat into cooking the curry base. I made a little video recently on the technique (here’s the link) you might want to watch before you try your first curry. Enjoy. It’s addictive.

  22. 5 stars
    Wow. This is an authentic and very tasty curry.

    Pre prep of the curry gravy is essential. I made this a few weeks before, froze some batches , then defrosted before use.

    Read the recipe BEFORE starting the cook and prep all the ingredients in separate bowls. Spices in one.

    Serve with Basmati rice, chapatis, cold beer and friends.

    Steve White, an enthusiastic amateur cook.

    Reply
    • A good curry with friends. That’s good living! So glad you liked it. And yes, prep is key when you need to move fast in the kitchen.

  23. I tried this recipe for the 1st time and omg it blew me away. It tasted better the next day than it did when I made it but I genuinely think it tasted better than my local curry takeout. I will make this my go to recipe from now on and make it again and again. Thank you so much for this!!

    Reply
    • That’s great to hear. Now you have the technique down there are lots of other curries on glebekitchen that you can try – and more coming all the time.

  24. 5 stars
    This was amazing, tried so many curry recipes until i came across this site, bulk made the essentials a few week ago and froze sauce. Made today just as it said but with extra green chillis and a drizzle from a lemon to finish. So happy i dont need to ring a takeaway for good curry anymore. Please post a balti next!

    Reply
    • So glad you liked it. A few extra green chilies is a nice addition but not everyone likes it quite that hot so I try to post the recipes on the milder side and let people add what they like. I will start researching balti next – haven’t tried to make one yet.

  25. Yay– more curry! You are DEFINITELY The Curry King (I approve of that food truck name!) This curry looks delicious. Love the flavors here. Hot green chilis have such an amazing heat and the spice mix you have here looks like it could go well in a lot of dishes. Can’t wait to make this soon!

    Reply
  26. This chicken jalfrezi looks amazing! Such big flavours, especially with the smoky flavour created by blistering the peppers! Great tips on pre-cooking the meat too! Thanks Romain!

    Reply
    • The smoky flavours are what makes this dish special. It’s often the little things that add up to make something better than expected.

  27. Ok, this is just making me hungry. I love your blog, I am learning so much about different restaurant cooking techniques and Indian cooking! Pinning this.:)

    Reply
    • Riva – that’s one of the nicest things I think anyone has ever said about glebekitchen! I am so glad you are learning new things by visiting.

    • 5 stars
      What a fantastic website. I have cooked the Jalfrezi and Madras so far and both me and my wife loved them both. Cant wait to try more

  28. Can I just come live in your kitchen??? Indian food is my favorite, hands down, but not my husband’s. I NEED my FIX. This chicken jalfrezi looks fantastic! And I love the blistered peppers clue for getting a smoky flavor. Bring on the heat!

    Reply
    • Haha. Thanks for that. Maybe you could try making one of the curry recipes and see if that does it for him? The blistered peppers thing was a bit of a revelation for me the first time I did it. Really makes a big difference.

    • Hi rsaha found this recipie for jalfrezi the best I’ve ever tried and I’ve tried loads it’s just like the takeaway I get it from and tastes amazing another of my favourites is garlic chilli chicken do you have a recipie for this ! ! !
      Many thanks
      Mark

    • Glad you like it. I don’t yet have a recipe for garlic chili chicken but it is on the list. In the meantime there are lots of other restaurant curry recipes here for you to try!

    • You have made my husband a very happy man. He said this was as good as restaurant food, I even took a sample for 1 my Indian employers and he said it was excellent. My husband is so excited he has gone shopping for tonights ingredients!!! This time I will get to taste it, I’m doing it vegetarian and he is trying the phathia? Thanks

    • Outstanding to hear. Glad he liked it and I hope you enjoy it as well! You can make any of the curries with paneer or chickpeas.

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.