Chicken jalfrezi is a delicious chicken stir-fry with onions, peppers and tomatoes minimally flavored with aromatic Indian spices. Chicken jalfrezi is the perfect kinda weeknight dinner for all chicken lovers!
The week of Diwali is the week of celebrating the joy & happiness that life offers us and bond with friends & family; hence this is the perfect time to share this joyful recipe of chicken jalfrezi which, I am sure, will strengthen the bond between us i.e. me and you, my readers! The recipe of ‘Jalfrezi’ has a history of its own and if the stories are to be believed, this particular recipe originated in British India to use up leftovers by frying them in chilies/peppers and onions. Jalfrezi can be made with chicken, fish or vegetables; I had already shared my recipe of paneer jalfrezi quite a while ago and that has the similar flavor profile as today’s chicken jalfrezi. It is quite a colorful dish thanks to the use of bell peppers of assorted colors. I love using bell peppers in stir-fry recipes like this chicken jalfrezi; they cook fast, soak up the flavors of the spices beautifully and add a crunch without being too overpowering in taste.
Chicken jalfrezi has become a permanent item in any Indian restaurant’s menu and I am sure it’s one of the frequently ordered items. The name, chicken jalfrezi, is intriguing enough to generate curiosity in our minds and hence we go for it. The popular anecdote behind this name goes like this – in Bengali, ‘jhal’ means spicy food; ‘frezi’ originates from the Persian word ‘porhezi’ which means ‘suitable for a diet’, which ultimately became ‘Jalfrezi’! How interesting is that! I love to know such histories behind any popular dish and it makes cooking more fun & exciting, don’t you think so? Such examples are ample in Indian cuisine only because of the eventful history of India, the country which had been invaded and ruled by foreign forces since ages from across the globe that resulted in culinary infusion between many cultures and generated numerous multi-cultural dishes, this chicken jalfrezi being one of them! I have few more in my kitty, like the lip-smacking Indo-Portuguese Vindaloo which will be coming up here shortly! Stay tuned!
Chicken jalfrezi can be made as a dry dish with clinging gravy or your can make a curry style chicken jalfrezi if you wish to. For making the curry, sauté some more sliced onion with ginger & garlic paste in hot oil until everything turn golden brown and softened. Then add tomato puree and sauté for few more minutes until oil starts to release. Now add 1 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, cumin powder and coriander powder and sauté the spices with a splash of water for couple of minutes. Then remove the onion mixture from heat and let it cool down completely. Once cooled, blend this onion mixture in a blender adding little water if required until smooth & creamy. Transfer the blended gravy to a wok, season it with salt to taste and let it come to boil. Your gravy for chicken jalfrezi is ready. Cook the chicken with peppers, onions & tomatoes according to instructions below and once they are done, add everything to the prepared gravy.
Simmer the gravy with chicken & veggies for 5 to 10 minutes on low heat so that all the flavors mingle among themselves. Finally, your chicken jalfrezi gravy is ready to serve with plain white rice. I personally like the dry version of chicken jalfrezi where the gravy is thick and clinging to the chicken pieces & veggies and it tastes best with paratha or naan. As of today, I haven’t perfected my naan-making skill yet; so, I take resort to take-aways when I crave for this super-popular buttery Indian flatbread. Chicken jalfrezi is quite a spicy preparation which is why I have added green chilies as well as red chili powder to add extra kick; but the assorted bell peppers compliment the heat really well maintaining a sweet undertone throughout the dish. This chicken jalfrezi is really a classic Indian recipe which deserves all the love and attention it gets for the deliciousness it offers and the ease of making it even on the busiest weeknight! Total win-win recipe, right?
- Chicken thigh – 750 gms, skinless & boneless
- Onion – 2, large
- Red bell pepper – 1, large
- Green bell pepper – 1, large
- Tomato – 2, large
- Green chilli – 2, slit in half lengthwise
- Mustard oil – 4 to 6 tbsp
- Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
- Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Turmeric powder – 2 tsp
- Coriander powder – 2 tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 to 2 tsp (depending on how much heat you prefer)
- Garam masala – 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
- Cut washed & drained chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces. Take them in a bowl and add all the powdered spices i.e. turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder except garam masala.
- Give them a good mix so that each chicken cube is coated with spices thoroughly. Set is aside, preferably in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
- Now let’s chop the vegetables. Cut the onions into thin long strips but not too thin so that they retain some crunch in the final dish. Cut the bell peppers into long strips. Cut the tomatoes into long pieces and discard all the seeds.
- After the chicken is marinated well, take it out from refrigerator. Heat the mustard oil in a large skillet or wok.
- Once the oil is hot, add slit green chilies, ginger paste & garlic paste and sauté them for a minute. Then add the marinated chicken cubes to the wok and fry them on medium high heat.
- Continue stir-frying the chicken on medium-high for 10 minutes; frying on high heat will help boil off the water that would have released from chicken.
- After stir-frying the chicken on medium-high for 10 minutes, add the sliced onions and keep on stir-frying for 5 minutes on medium-high flame.
- Now crank up the heat to high and tip in the sliced bell peppers and tomatoes. Season with salt to taste and stir everything to mix for about 2 minutes.
- Now reduce the heat to medium low, cover the wok and let everything cook for 10 minutes. Keep checking in between to ensure the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- After about 10-12 minutes, chicken should be cooked through and peppers should have softened. Check and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- If there is excess water in the pan, crank up the heat and boil off the water. Finally, sprinkle garam masala and give a final stir.
- Sprinkle freshly chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and serve the delicious chicken jalfrezi hot with naan or paratha. Enjoy!