A British Raj Jalfrezi

Jalfrezi Curries Only Take Minutes To Cook!

The Curry Guy is a guest of the Urban Rajah

Almost anyone who frequents Indian restaurants these days will surely be familiar with jalfrezi curries. Chicken jalfrezi is actually one of the most asked for curries at curry houses throughout the UK. But do you know the history behind this popular dish?

Most of the curries we see in Indian restaurants originated - in name at least - in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. The latter two countries were part of a much larger India until 1947.

Jalfrezi curries are no different.

Like other well known curries, chicken jalfrezi indian style is quite a lot different than what it was when it was first cooked back in the days of the British Raj. You see, the British that lived and worked in India at the time were homesick for good old British style cooking. They loved their roast dinners and boiled vegetables. The well to do amongst them were also known to have thrown huge parties where they ate and drank loads and almost always had a lot of food left over. Wasting this food was not an option. So here's how to cook jalfrezi


You may be interested to know that 'Jal' means pungently spicy and 'frezi' means ‘stir fry’

The British may have liked large roasts but they refused to throw away good food and asked their servants to cook and serve the left-overs during the week. This was especially so in Calcutta where it is believed the first jalfrezi curries were made. Servants to the British elite were made up primarily of a Buddhist tribe from what is now Bangladesh called the Mogs.

The Mogs were made to cook these festive roasts such as giant turkeys, beef roasts and venison over large fires in terribly hot and uncomfortable conditions. On left-over days they were able to put a little bit of themselves into the dishes. They added lots of spice and stir fried the cold cuts of left-over meat in curry pans over much smaller fires and very quickly.

What resulted were recipes like this spicy - stir fried turkey jalfrezi which just so happens to be a great way to use up whatever is left from your Christmas turkey. Enjoy.

Serves 6

700g cooked turkey cut into bite sized pieces (Feel free to use other types of meat or pre-cooked potato)
5 Tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 Tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
1 Tablespoon ground cumin - preferably home roasted and ground
1 Tablespoon coriander powder - preferably home roasted and ground
1 Tablespoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 onion thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper roughly chopped
2 fresh green chillies slit lengthwise
5 tomatoes roughly chopped

Melt the ghee in a hot wok or large frying pan. Add the turmeric and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds. The ghee will begin to darken a little. Now add the ginger and garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder and cinnamon powder. Stir the spices around in the ghee to create jalfrezi curry paste. Add the onion slices, bell pepper, green chillies and tomato and fry for about a minute before adding the meat. 

Heat the meat through and serve with rice.

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Rajah every day you add to my scant knowledge.

By Victor Peters on February 14, 2012

Spice time!

By Jan Ekman on February 16, 2013

Awesome, very much enjoyed. Thank you for posting the recipe.

By Paul W on March 16, 2013

Should this be 2 Tablespoons of ginger past and 2 Tablespoons of garlic paste or 2 Tablespoons combined with ginger and garlic? 
Looking forward to making this recipe, thanks for sharing!

By Jare on March 18, 2013

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Hi Jare, thanks for dropping by - this should be a mix of ingredients i.e. 2 tbs of mixed garlic and ginger paste. If in doubt drop in 1 tbs of ginger paste and 1 tbs garlic paste et voila! Let me know how you get on.

By Urban Rajah on March 18, 2013

Thanks, very helpful, and this recipe was very delicious! smile

By Jared on March 22, 2013

I found your site looking for a Jalfrezi recipe. Love the site and love the Jalfrezi.

By Shirls on June 09, 2013

Tried this out last week and it was delicious. I did not have any leftover turkey (as I am not Bridget Jones’s mother) so used firm tofu instead. Worked well.

By Sarah on September 27, 2014

Urban Chef - loved your book. And continue to love the mix of recipes and the ‘insight’.  You need to be on TV!  Keep it all up. All the best for 2015.

By Sean on January 05, 2015

Could you add some water to it to have more sauce?

By Carwyn Ap Tomos on July 03, 2015

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Indeed you can add a little more water and it’d be just as delicious!

By Urban Rajah on July 16, 2015

I think proper Jalfrezi is supposed to be dry curry so you put it in a chapati and not a gravy-type curry.

By Roy on September 08, 2015

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Hi Roy,
This recipe is a relatively dry curry, try it and let me know how you get on…tastes great in flatbread too!

By Urban Rajah on September 12, 2015

My local Indian (Bangladeshi) used to do a wonderful Jalfrezi, which was served in a green, creamy, very tasty sauce. It has since changed owners & chefs & the new owners look at me gone out when I mention it.
Any help or recipes would be greatly appreciated.

By Mum Roberts on March 20, 2016

Wicked curry, best I’ve cooked, added extra green finger chillis to give a kick, loved it, also only used a third of the ghee recomended

By Jon Vukmirovic on June 12, 2016

Hi is it butter ghee or vegetable ghee..many thanks

By karmel dawson on January 01, 2018

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Hi there, it’s a butter ghee but you can also use a vegetable ghee if preferred. Hope you enjoy the recipe.

By Urban Rajah on January 07, 2018

Great Recipe!

By Sanjay on March 20, 2018

Thanks for this recipe!

By Matthew Rettino on April 22, 2018

Hi, can’t get ghee, what could i use instead? Thanks.

By Ethel on May 26, 2018

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