Update July 2020
When I first posted this recipe in 2013 my only previous experience of Jalfrezi was from a jar. It has become my go when ordering an Indian takeaway but I’ll be honest, I prefer when I make it myself.
It can range in heat from medium to very hot and in traditionally made with green chillies, which are hotter than red. I use red chillies and the recipe below gives a medium heat. So basically, this is nothing like the traditional dish!
I pulled ideas from ingredients on my favourite jarred sauce, and from Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein’s recipes. Rick’s India book and show came out after I originally posted this, I coud have saved myself a lot of messging about! One recipe I saw suggested marinating the meat in a dry spice mix before cooking. I did this first time around. I then made the dish again as himself said it lacked sweetness. He was right, unfortunately. I don’t say that too often! The second time I didn’t bother marinating and added jarred peppers for sweetness. It tasted much better so I really think unless you are using a tough cut of meat, there is no need to marinade.
Useful tips & links:
- This recipe has been a favourite for about 10 years. Over the years I have simplified the recipe and cut out a few steps. Sometimes I tend to over-complicate things! Now I can make the curry in under 30 minutes, however it does benefit from being made in advance if time allows.
- I used to add a little coconut to this sauce but I now prefer to leave it out and like the light tomato sauce.
- Most of the recipes I found use fresh tomatoes for the sauce. However the tomatoes I have wouldn’t always be good enough so I used tinned.
- I made this with chicken, but you could use prawns, beef, lamb or vegetables – cauliflower, butternut squash and spinach work well in the vegetarian version.
- This curry freezes really well so it is ideal for batch cooking and portioning up for the freezer.
- I haven’t made this too hot but like to add more chilli to mine when serving.
- I like to serve mine with basmati rice, natural yogurt, naans and a simple mango and red onion chutney.
- For another tomato based curry have a look at my vegetarian Aubergine Chickpea and Tomato Curry.
- For more inspiration have a look at Shilpa’s gorgeous Chicken Curry with Creamy Cashew Paste on Soulful and Healthy.
For the paste
- 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 roasted red peppers from a jar
- 1-2 chillies
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5cm piece of ginger
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
For the curry
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- A sliced onion
- 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric
- 1½ teaspoons of ground cardamom
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 2-3 diced chicken breasts
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes or passata
- 50g of frozen peas
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- Put all of the ingredients for the paste into a mini food processor and blitz to a smooth consistency.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop add the onions and cook for a few minutes to soften slightly.
- Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cardamom and fry for a couple of minutes to cook the spices.
- Scrape the paste from the processor into the onions and cook again until you can smell that the paste is starting to cook.
- Next put the sliced pepper and chicken into the paste and fry for a minute to seal the meat.
- Pour in the tomatoes, peas, tamarind and sugar and stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Pour in a little water now if you want to loosen the sauce. Add some black pepper and the garam masala. Taste and adjust the seasoning and spices as needed.