Say hello to this Chicken Jalfrezi recipe – it’s been in the works since a whooping 2015. You could say it’s likely one of my longest projects to date – it’s officially six years old and only making it’s debut on the blog now!
The reason why it’s taken this recipe so darn long to see the light of day is this – my husband does not like capsicum. And therefore, it just never ended up on our meal rotation, like, ever. So whilst this recipe has been in the works for six years, I probably only cooked it six times during that duration.
I finally gave it a hand whilst I was staying at my Mother’s house a while back and I finally cracked the code and got something I am finally happy sharing with you all. Hurrah for the Chicken Jalfrezi recipe finally graduating from my drafts folder!
How do I know this Chicken Jalfrezi is legit? I’ll tell you why.
I’m actually incredibly proud to say this recipe really blew my family away. You’d think this isn’t such a rare occurrence, because ya know I’m a food blogger and all. But actually, my family ain’t so easy to please, #thestruggleisreal. A while back my parents came to visit me and I made this without rally giving it much thought and I was truly humbled and overjoyed at how much they loved this! It definitely solidified my confidence in this recipe and makes me even more happier to have it up here on the blog for you all to enjoy too!
What is Chicken Jalfrezi?
Chicken Jalfrezi is a boneless chicken curry made with a traditional onion and tomato masala. It is characterised by the inclusion of large, cubes pieces of capsicum (bell pepper) added in towards the end of the cook-time, so they keep their colour and bite. Some versions of Chicken Jalfrezi also add large pieces of onion, but my recipe doesn’t.
What sets a Chicken Jalfrezi apart from other regular curries is the slightly tangy addition of vinegar at the end, which makes it rather reminiscent of more Indo-Chinese style curries such as Chicken Manchurian.
So truthfully, this isn’t something I’ve grown up eating. Neither has my husband.
It is however, served at many of our local Pakistani and Indian restaurants without fail. And indeed, this is a very popular dish on the British takeout scene. And it’s popular for a good reason, it’s an absolutely delicious curry. – I, for one, adore the aroma and flavour of crunchy capsicum in not just this curry but also others such as Chilli Paneer.
Is Chicken Jalfrezi healthy?
So I see Chicken Jalfrezi often used as a ‘slimming’ meal or recipe and I can totally see why. When cooked with chicken breast pieces, it is very low in fat, high in protein and very modest in calories. Even when cooked with chicken thigh, it’s still pretty low calorie.
The use of capsicum, which is another low calorie and low carbohydrate vegetable, bulks up the curry to make it even more filling, nutritious and satisfying.
So in essence, it certainly is a lot healthier and lower calorie than various other curries such as a butter chicken or chicken tikka masala. I suppose that’s a good bonus, eh? It’s also dairy-free too, so if that’s a dietary concern for you, you’re in luck.
To make this curry even healthier, reduce the amount of oil specified in the instructions.
Chicken Jalfrezi also wins a lot of points in the low carb area too. It probably wouldn’t be keto-friendly due to the to the onion and tomatoes, but it’s definitely low carb for sure.
How to make Chicken Jalfrezi
Chicken Jalfrezi starts off very much like most other curries – we start by frying an onion. Stir it regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn or brown unevenly. Keep the head medium to high, adjusting as needed.
Once the onion is beginning to turn golden, we’ll add some ginger, garlic and green chillies.
After a few minutes, we’ll add in some tomatoes. We’ll cook this down well, into a jammy and well-integrated mixture, until the water dries out, the mixture becomes concentrated and the oil begins to separate along the edges.
Once we get to the elusive point of oil-separation (the seasoned desi cooks amongst us will KNOW how important this is), we’ll add in the chicken and spices. I’ll talk more about what kind of chicken works best for Jalfrezi in the next part. We want to sauté the chicken and spices over a high heat in the masala until the chicken no longer remains pink.
Add some water, cover and then simmer on low for 20 or so minutes, so the chicken cooks through.
Once the chicken is done, add in the capsicum and vinegar. Stir through, then cover again and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. The aim here is for the capsicum to still retain it’s crunch, but still take on some of the flavours of the curry and also release some of it’s own.
Finish by garnishing with some fresh coriander.
Using the best ingredients to make this curry shine
- Ideally, you want to use boneless chicken thigh pieces. Chicken thigh is significantly more tender, juicy and generally more enjoyable than breast pieces. Ask your butcher to cut them in curry-size pieces
- I like using a combination of coloured capsicums for this recipe – it looks beautifully vibrant and it also adds a variety of flavours to the dish
- As always, I recommend using fresh ingredients. Fresh onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic will do wonders for the depth of flavour
Chicken Jalfrezi Substitutions + Additions
- You are free to use any cut of chicken for this recipe, including breast pieces. You can also use bone-in chicken too, just substitute the same weight of boneless chicken for bone-in
- I prefer using white onions for this recipe – they complement the flavours of the curry better
- If you’d like to use pieces of onion in this recipe, replace one of the capsicum for half an onion diced into large square pieces
- If you do not have fresh tomatoes, you can use tomato puree instead. About 2-3 tablespoons will suffice.
- If you’d like a richer, creamier masala then you can add a 3-4tbsp of double cream or coconut milk to it – I’d recommend adding it in at the same time as you add the capsicums
- If you’d like to make a vegetarian version of this recipe, you can use paneer instead of boneless chicken. Just substitute the same amount of chicken for paneer – cube the paneer and fry it, ensuring the paneer has turned golden evenly before adding into the curry. It won’t need to cook for long – 10 minutes maximum to soak in all the flavour. To make thing easier for you, I also have a Paneer Jalfrezi recipe here
How can you serve Chicken Jalfrezi?
The sky is the limit! Honestly, this is my FAVOURITE part about this curry. It’s so versatile! You can eat it with rice, or any kind of bread such as my Roghni Naan or roti. Poppadum’s work a treat too on the side. You can enjoy it without any carby companions too – just grab a fork and this is a great meal to enjoy too, thanks to the boneless chicken! It goes great served alongside a cooling salad and raita (yogurt sauce).
Can I freeze this?
Absolutely! In fact, I think Chicken Jalfrezi is a curry that freezes exceptionally well in comparison to other curries. If you can, I would recommend you freeze this without the capsicums though… this is because the capsicums can become soggy and release a lot of moisture upon defrosting. Ideally, freeze just the chicken curry and then when you’ve defrosted it, add in the capsicum and give it a quick simmer before serving. It tastes brilliant, almost like fresh, this way!
If you enjoy Chicken Jalfrezi, you may also like these recipes…
Enjoy, with love x
- 0.5 cup oil or ghee
- 3 onions, chopped
- 4 green chillis, whole
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 whole bulb of garlic, minced
- Large chunk of ginger, minced
- 800g chicken boneless, cut into bite-sized pieces, preferably thigh
- 2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 2tsp paprika
- 1.5 tsp crushed black pepper
- 1tsp coriander powder
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 0.5tsp turmeric powder
- 3 capsicums, preferably different colours, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 5tbsp white vinegar
- Fresh coriander, for garnish
- In a pan, add the oil/ghee. Add in the onions and fry on a medium-high heat, stirring regularly to ensure the onions brown evenly
- Once the onions are beginning to turn golden (between 10-15 minutes) add the garlic, ginger and green chillies. Fry this for a few minutes
- Add in the tomatoes. Turn the heat up to high and fry the mixture until most of the water dries out, the oil begins to separate and the mixture looks jammy
- Add the chicken pieces and all the spices. Fry these on high heat, stirring regularly to ensure the chicken does not burn and is coloured evenly. Continue to fry this for about 10 minutes
- Add about 1/3 cup of water, cover and allow the chicken to cook for about 20 minutes
- Add in the vinegar and the diced capsicum. Stir through, then turn the heat down to low and allow this to cook for between 5-10 minutes, covered with the lid. The capsicum should remain crunchy
- Finish off by stirring in some chopped coriander before serving.