chicken jalfrezi in 30 minutes

Chicken jalfrezi is on every single Indian restaurant menu for a reason. It’s delicious. Now you can make it at home. In 30 minutes. Start to finish. Any night of the week.

The flavours are restaurant worthy. Lush sauce. Bold flavours. Big chunks of lightly charred peppers and onions. And the bite of green chilies. My kind of dish.

This is an old recipe. From back in early 2018. The early days of glebekitchen. I’m dusting it off and bringing it forward.

Because I believe. I want you try it. Something a little different. Something a bit counter-intuitive. But something that works. Works well.

You could buy a jar of jalfrezi sauce. Toss in some chicken. And hope for the best. Pretty sure best isn’t the word that will come out of your mouth though.

Or you can make this chicken jalfrezi. It will surprise you I think.

30 minute chicken jalfrezi table scene from the front

Char your peppers a bit for great chicken jalfrezi

There’s a secret to making a good chicken jalfrezi. Took me forever to figure it out.

You have to scorch the green peppers when you fry them. Get them to almost blister. Like when you roast chiles.

That gives the dish its signature, smoky flavour. It’s critical. No char. Lower average. With char. Seriously delicious. The difference is not subtle.

It’s dead easy to do. Heat your oil. Pop some nice big green pepper pieces into the pan skin side down. And wait.

After about two minutes take a peek at one. If you see a bit of blistering. A little char. Then you know you’ve arrived.

You can start tossing them around the pan. Secure in the knowledge your jalfrezi is going to be great.

Table scene - chicken jalfrezi, rice and chapatis.

Onions make the sauce

That’s the thing about Indian cooking. It’s almost always the onions. Almost. I am a firm believer onions have no place in a top notch butter chicken. Seriously.

Traditional Indian cooking relies on browning the onions. Lots of onions. And that takes time.

Restaurants get around this by making a thing called curry base or base gravy. It’s basically a curry flavoured onion soup. Making it takes time. A couple hours.

30 minute curry in a hurry is restaurant style. Streamlined. It has a really fast version of the onion soup.

Uses all the restaurant techniques. Gets restaurant results. Not perfect maybe. But really, really close.

And it takes 30 minutes. From the time you open the fridge. To the time you put it on the table.

It uses the least useful kitchen appliance almost everyone owns. The microwave. A 10 minute zap at around 70 percent gets you cooked onions. There’s a point to the microwave after all.

Some water and a quick trip to the blender gets you base gravy. And restaurant technique does the rest.

Close-up of chicken, chili and cherry tomato in red gravy.

Why this works

Restaurants don’t make big pots of curry and hope people show up. Can you imagine?

51 dishes on the menu. 51 big pots of expensive curry simmering on the world’s largest stove.

That is a formula for bankruptcy. There’s no way anyone can run a restaurant like that. Plus who would want a chicken jalfrezi that has been simmering for 5 hours…

What they actually do is cook to order. And they have figured out ways to make that work.

They use curry gravy. And it’s when the curry gravy hits hot fat that magic happens. Not really magic. The Maillard reaction. Food science.

You don’t have to understand it. It’s what makes a lot of things take better. It’s like MSG. Except it’s not controversial. Nobody hates on the Maillard reaction.

The curry gravy is onion soup. Remember that. So the first 20 minutes of sweating onions is already done. The onions are cooked.

That’s why this works. You go straight to browning mode. And that saves a ton of time.

30 minutes is not a challenge

I can make this dish in 30 minutes. I’m comfortable with the recipe. I cook a lot. I’m pretty fast in the kitchen.

If that sounds like you then I think you can do it too. 30 minutes is totally doable. But this isn’t a contest.

If it takes you 34 minutes that’s OK. 36 minutes? That’s good too. Don’t rush to hit a number. That just doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t matter.

What matters is you create something you enjoy eating. And hopefully making. Cooking is supposed to be fun. Always remember that.

chicken jalfrezi in a kadai alongside a bowl of yellow rice pulao from above

Chicken jalfrezi in 30 minutes – curry in a hurry

At the end of the day you have a choice to make. You can open up a jar of sauce. Add some chicken. Cook.

That’s going to take you 15 minutes. It’s almost certain to disappoint. And it isn’t going to be cheap.

Or you can spend an extra 15 minutes and make something. Something worth eating. A meal you are happy to see on your plate. A meal you can serve your friends.

I know what I choose. No contest…

Chicken jalfrezi with serving spoon from the front.
30 minute chicken jalfrezi in a kadai from above
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5 from 14 votes

30 minute chicken jalfrezi

You don’t need to dive into full blown Indian restaurant style cooking to whip up a really, really good chicken jalfrezi.
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chicken jalfrezi, indian chicken curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 or 2 if you have really big appetites
Calories 454kcal

Ingredients

The onion paste

  • 2 cups onions – coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

Chicken jalfrezi

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 3 pieces per thigh.
  • 1 green pepper – cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion – cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp tandoori masala
  • 2 tsp mild kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt – use a bit less if you are using table salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic ginger paste – see notes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced cilantro stems
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste diluted to the consistency of tomato sauce
  • 2 green chilies – halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 cherry tomatoes – halved

Instructions

The onion paste

  • Place the 2 cups of chopped onions in a microwave safe dish and cover loosely. Microwave at 70 percent until the onions are soft and translucent. This takes 10 minutes in my 1100 watt microwave. I can’t predict how long it will take in yours…
  • Remove the onions from the microwave. Be careful. They will be hot. Let them cool slightly. Place the onions, 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 cup of warm water in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Chicken jalfrezi

  • In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, turmeric, tandoori masala, Kashmiri chili powder, kasoor methi and salt. This is your spice mix.
  • Heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the green pepper, skin side down. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining chopped onion and continue to cook until the onion starts to brown on the edges and the green pepper scorches a bit. You really want the colour on the green pepper skin. It’s key to the taste of a jalfrezi. 
  • Add the garlic ginger paste and cilantro stems and cook until the garlic ginger paste stops spluttering.
  • Turn the heat to medium low. Add the spice mix and stir continuously until it starts to smell really good – around 30-40 seconds. Watch it carefully. If you burn the spices at this point you have to start over. It will stick a bit. That’s OK – you will deglaze with the tomato mixture.
  • Add the diluted tomato paste and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium. Cook for 1 minute, scraping up any spice mix that stuck to the pan..
  • Add the onion paste and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. It will darken a bit as it cooks. Don’t worry if it seems a bit dry. The chicken will release juices as it cooks and you should be left with a nice amount of sauce.
  • Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the chicken and green chilies and stir. Cover and simmer until the chicken is done. It's done when you measure the internal temperature and it says 170F, about 10-12 minutes. An instant read thermometer is a handy thing to have here…
  • If the curry is a bit thick add a bit of water or chicken stock and stir. Add the cherry tomatoes. Let the chicken jalfrezi simmer another minute or so. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. It may be a bit under salted at this point.
  • Garnish with a bit of cilantro if desired.

Notes

The recipe for Indian restaurant spice mix can be found here.
You can buy garlic ginger paste but it’s easy to make and homemade is way better. Here’s an easy recipe for garlic ginger paste. If you cook Indian fairly often it’s so worth it to whip up a batch. It will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

Nutrition

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 880mg | Potassium: 777mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 41.7mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2.7mg

32 thoughts on “chicken jalfrezi in 30 minutes”

  1. Hey,
    I still see under the notes “Indian spice mix”, however it isn’t mentioned among the information or the steps. Do we need to prepare it for the recipes / for this recipe?

    Reply
    • There is a link to the indian spice mix recipe in the notes. The idea is that you make a batch of it from time to time and have it ready just like a restaurant would.

  2. 5 stars
    Nice one Romain, you’ve pulled it off again. I knocked this up last night and it was wonderful.
    I made it even easier by using tinned fried onions (called Easy Onions from Morrisons in the UK) which I headed up and blitzed.
    Next time I think I’ll take half the pepper out after frying and put it in at the end to give a little crunch.
    Thank you for this recipe.

    Reply
    • Delighted you enjoyed it. We don’t get tinned fried onions here. That would be an awesome timesaver!

  3. Hello Romain, I have prepared many of your dishes to great response and some of them are my regular staples, but I admit that I am a little confused in this one, the ingredients do not say “Indian spice mix” and it is not until you start the chicken jalfrezi, when it says add the mix powder, which I assume is the Indian spice mix, which I previously made earlier, and do you then add the other spices in addition? Maybe I missed something, but I know you will put me on the right track

    Reply
    • You didn’t miss anything. I did. I’m updating these 30 minute recipes (reboot of a series from 6 years ago) and I didn’t catch that in the instructions. Thanks for the catch.

    • Your best bet is a pot on the stove with a little oil. You want to take them to the point where they are nice and soft.

  4. Hi Romain
    Can this method be possible for milder curries for people who for whatever reason cannot handle strong curries.

    Reply
    • Sure. It can go just about anywhere. I don’t see any reason why the technique cannot be adapted to whatever (restaurant) dishes appeal to you.

      Also note that almost all recipes posted here are spiced to medium so you can turn things up or down by varying the amount to chili powder. There are no rules here except maybe cook what makes you smile.

      If this jalfrezi is too spicy leave out the green chilies and maybe cut the kashmiri chili powder in half. It will be pretty mild but still tasty.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, I have never been overly fond of Jalfrezi for some reason… And that reason turned out to be that I hadn’t charred my peppers sufficiently! I did it, Glebe Kitchen magic happened, and now I’m a convert! Thanks for another great recipe!!

    Reply
  6. I would really love to see more hotel style recipes on here. I am doing your dal makhani and read in 2021 you had begun a hotel style but hadn’t really started tinkering with it. Is that still going or was it dropped?

    Reply
  7. 5 stars
    Loved this, great tasting and easy to make, my first recipe from your site but I will be making some more! Thankyou

    Reply
  8. Made this 3 times now and each time it blows us away.
    Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Love your website for Indian recipes.

    Reply
    • Awesome. Great to hear! Maybe you could try some of the other non-indian recipes sometime. The same guy comes up with those:-)

  9. 5 stars
    Actually, I have another question. What do you think about using ghee? I have the idea that it also adds to the flavor, and that it somehow easier to control temperature in the pan. And which type of vegetable oil do you use? Thanks and regards!

    Reply
    • I use plain old canola oil (widely available in Canada). I use ghee on occasion when I want that rich, buttery taste but I find in general it’s a tradeoff. It blunts the flavours a bit in my opinion so it depends on what you want. Maximum spice flavour or richness.

  10. Hi Romain, I was cooking this dish last weekend, and it was another hit! Though I have to admit that I still used garlic-/ginger-paste from a jar, just because I wanted to finish the jars first, otherwise I have to throw them away. But they are finished now, so next time I will use your recipe for the garlic-/ginger-paste as well. The jalfrezi was anyhow very yummy, even with the stuff from the jar (but from now on no jars anymore!). Is there a video which shows how to scorch that peppers? I am not sure if I did well, but the taste of the curry was great! Two days later I ate some little left-overs, and I still could not believe that I had cooked that dish myself. Great texture, great depth of flavors. Thank you so much again. Regards!

    Reply
    • If it tasted great you know you did it right. I will be doing a jalfrezi video before long…

  11. Hi, I have two questions. One is I can’t stand green pepper. Would substituting red, yellow or orange pepper work the same? Also I prefer chicken breasts over thighs. Does it make big difference to substitute chicken breasts?

    Reply
    • You can do whatever you like. Red pepper would be a little sweeter flavour profile but if you don’t like green then go for it! Breasts would work too but you have to be careful not to overcook them as white meat tends to dry out easier if you’re not careful. Go for 160-165F internal temperature with the white meat and it should be fine.

      In the end you are cooking for you so there’s no sense in making something you won’t like. Have fun with it!

    • 237 ml to the cup. Density of water is one so for anything close to the density of water 237 grams. For anything not close to water you will need to measure volume unfortunately.

  12. 5 stars
    I’ve got to say that one of the best jalfrezi I’ve made for a long time.
    It had the right balance of spice and heat , loved the home made spice mix. The only thing I did different was flash fried the onion and pepper then added them back at the end of cooking, I love the rawness of peppers.

    Reply

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