Jalfrezi Curry

Jalfrezi Curry - A Cookbook Collection

As far as I know Jalfrezi is traditionally a curry with a dry thick sauce. Shamefully my only previous experience of Jalfrezi was from a jar and this gave quite a rich sauce. So that’s how I like it. Given how much we like the Thai red curry made from scratch I decided to try to a Jalfrezi too. 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 the back of sauce jars (ahem!) and various websites, including Jamie Oliver’s Vegetable Jalfrezi dish and came up this. One recipe 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.

I made this with chicken, but you could use beef, lamb or vegetables – cauliflower, butternut squash and spinach work well in the vegetarian version. It freezes really well.

Serves 4


  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 2-3 diced chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric
  • 1 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 2 roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Another tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric
  • 1 &1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • small bunch of fresh coriander (optional)
  • 1/2 medium fresh red chilli (increase or decrease to taste)
  • 50g frozen peas or 100g butternut squash cubed or 1 medium red pepper sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala


  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop add half of the onions and the first lot of cumin, coriander and turmeric and the ground cardamom.
  • Cook the onions until soft and then add the chicken and cook until sealed all over.
  • While that is cooking put all of the following into a blender and whizz until you get a smooth paste: the remaining onions, the peppers, dried chilli, garlic, ginger, coconut, tomato puree, cumin, coriander, turmeric and paprika
  • When the chicken is sealed reduce the heat slightly and add the paste from the blender and cook for about 5 minutes. If using peppers or squash add them now.
  • Put the chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander and fresh chilli into the blender again. You don’t have to make this too smooth, a bit of texture is nice.
  • Add the tomato mix to the pan. Heat until it is about to boil and reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Add the peas now if you are using them, tamarind paste, sugar and garam masala and stir well. Simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add a small bit of water if you want to loosen the sauce a bit.
  • Taste to see if it needs seasoning but you should not have to add salt.
  • Serve with basmati rice. Additional extras you can serve are naan bread, greek yoghurt, raita, or the red onion mango relish in the pic below.

Jalfrezi Curry  - A Cookbook Collection

This red onion mango relish is made simply by finely chopping a small red onion, cook over a low heat in some vegetable oil until soft and add the few table tablespoons of mango chutney. Delicious!

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