Pakistani Chicken Jalfrezi Recipe

This chicken Jalfrezi recipe is heavily influenced by the British Bangladeshi and Pakistani food and features chicken in a spiced tomato gravy.

Portrait image of a chicken jalfrezi curry in a copper coated curry bowl served with a naan bread

My Chicken Jalfrezi.

This dish is an ever-present recipe on the British Indian Curry scene and has been as long as I remember.

Like many British Indian curries, this Jalfrezi is heavily influenced by Bengali cuisine.

Bengali migration to places like Birmingham, East London and Manchester really defined the flavours of Indian food that the British know and love.

This recipe is most definitely leans on that heritage. Flavours like cumin, coriander, fenugreek and turmeric are all front and centre.

Just like most of my curry recipes this one very much leans on my experience growing up with Anglo Indian food.

It is a delightful, warming and comforting curry that you can simply vary the heat levels of.

Simply adjust the number or type of green chillies to your taste at the start.

Bell peppers are often added to this recipe, something I am not so keen on.

The thick sauce that is atypical of this curry does not work with them for me. But feel free to add them if you like stir fry them with the onions before you add chicken.

Portrait overhead image of a chicken jalfrezi curry in a copper coated curry bowl served with a naan bread

What is a Jalfrezi Curry?

The first reference to Jalfrezi in print dates back to the British Raj. They point to it being a dish to use up leftovers frying them up with chilli and onion.

My version very much leans on a technique that is very common in British Indian restaurants.

The sauce is made separately from the meat and then combined to simmer afterwards.

Regular followers of my Indian recipes will be familiar with this technique. I use it in both my chicken balti recipe and my chicken pathia recipe.

In many ways, this is done for convenience in a restaurant setting because it allows for a very broad menu with minimal prep.

However, it does work really well at home and is an easy way to get great flavour.

Like many curries, this one starts with a thick and simmered spiced tomato gravy.

You then go on to blend and then cook your marinaded chicken chunks and simmer further to allow the spices to melt together.

Despite the lengthy ingredient list, this curry is really very easy to make.

Portrait close up image of a chicken jalfrezi curry

What to Serve with this Curry?

My website is littered with British Indian Curries and they always prove popular with you guys.

I hope this recipe joins them amongst your favourites!

As with many of my chicken curry recipes, I recommend serving this curry with a naan bread.

Well, because I think all curries are better with a naan!

However, it would also work well with plain basmati rice or even some paratha or chapatis.

Landscape image of a chicken jalfrezi curry in a copper coated curry bowl served with a naan bread
Recipe for Chicken Jalfrezi

Recipe for Chicken Jalfrezi

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

There is no such thing as "just" a chicken curry! This Jalfrezi recipe has strong Gujurati and Pakistani influences and is often found hanging out at all the best British Indian curry houses.

Ingredients

  • 400 g Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tsp Turmeric
  • 1 Tsp Ground Fenugreek
  • 200 g Onion
  • 6 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 250 g Canned Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Black Onion Seeds
  • 6 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
  • Salt to Taste

Instructions

  1. Cut your chicken thighs into large chunks.
  2. Coat the chicken with the cumin, coriander, fenugreek and turmeric and allow to marinade whilst we make the sauce.
  3. Roughly chop half your onion, garlic and green chili.
  4. Heat half of the cooking oil in a frying pan and add the onion, green chili and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add 200ml of water to the onion, garlic and chili mix and reduce the temperature to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Whilst this is happening chop the second half of your onion into wedges and set aside.
  7. Place the onion mix in a blender with the canned tomatoes and blend to a smooth sauce.
  8. Heat a second dry pan over a medium high heat and add the coriander seeds, mustard seeds, onion seeds and cardamom pods and toast for 60-90 seconds.
  9. When toasted pour in the tomato mix and add the tomato puree and allow to cook for 15 minutes. 
  10. Now is a good time to have a taste and add salt as required, remember this sauce will reduce a little so do not over season.
  11. After the tomato sauce has been simmering for 10 minutes heat the second table spoon of oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion wedges and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  12. Then season the chicken with salt and throw it in and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  13. Add the tomato sauce to the onion and chicken mix and cook until the chicken is cooked through which should take 10-12 minutes.
  14. Add the garam masala and stir in leaving to stand for 3-4 minutes before serving.
  15. Serve with a nice fluffy naan bread!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 732 Total Fat: 45g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 34g Cholesterol: 256mg Sodium: 670mg Carbohydrates: 36g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 16g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 55g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

20 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. I saw this and fell in love at first site! My Dad’s family came from Manchester area to the States; My great, great grandfather Barlow was born in Bolton in 1815! This is on my must make soon list! Thanks!

    Mollie

  2. Hi
    I’m just making the jalfrezi
    Do you not have to blend the mustard seeds onion seeds and cardamon pods

    Simon

    • I would personally leave them out and not substitute, there really is nothing that springs to mind as an alternative… I did do some web searching for you and come up with suggestions like Sesame Seeds and Cumin which I personally think are way wide of the mark. Omitting them certainly will not ruin the dish so skip them it will be fine 🙂

    • Cheers Matt, glad you like it…. It took a while to get the balance right on this one, seems it paid off!

    • Hi Brian
      Made this the other day and it was fantastic. In fact it’s that good that I’m cooking it for six people on Saturday. It’s sounds obvious but want to make sure would I just treble the ingredients.

      • Yes, just treble the ingredients, cooking time will remain pretty much the same too although you will need to monitor that as the increased liquid levels will mean that things will take a few minutes to reach temperature. So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. How I loved reading your post! It was amazingly well explained. The Trivia on English Indian Cuisine was very interesting. I will try your way of Jhalfrezi next time..mine is slightly different..have never used fenugreek powder in cooking directly.

    • Fenugreek powder and seeds became popular in British Indian food due to the lack of availability of leaves either dried or fresh and it just kind stuck.

  4. Jalfrezi is without a doubt fusion food as its best. I recently visited the balti triangle for a friends birthday and had some of the tastiest fusion food in the UK. Thanks for sharing your great recipe, sounds like a keeper, bookmarked!

    • I lived and was raised right on the edge of the Balti Triangle… Hence my love of British Indian food 😀

  5. Mmmm, I can almost smell all the delicious flavors in this curry, it’s close to lunch time in my area and looking at your awesome pictures makes me so hungry, totally agree with you about the naans, must check your recipe.

  6. I just love a jalfrezi so much and yours looks oh so tempting! I might have to pop it on the meal plan for next week!

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