J Is for Jalfrezi

J Is for Jalfrezi

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Sheela Prakash
Oct 12, 2016
(Image credit: Kelsey McClellan)

Jalfrezi may be lesser-known than dishes like tikka masala or rogan josh, but it still has quite the fan base. And that's for good reason — this Indian stir-fry is as fragrant and comforting as the others, with even more of a powerful, spicy kick.

What Is Jalfrezi?

The story of jalfrezi starts in eastern India, where, during the British Raj, chefs came up with the recipe as a way of using up leftovers, which over time became a way of cooking marinated meat instead. The method is more similar to a Chinese stir-fry than anything else, as the meat, along with chiles, vegetables, and spices, are cooked over high heat in a large sauté pan or wok rather than stewed or braised in a more typical wet curry. It's similar in style to Chicken 65, another Indo-Chinese recipe that involves meat that's marinated in a slew of spices and dry-fried.

A Case for Chickpea Jalfrezi

Since jalfrezi is really more of a cooking method than a specific dish, it can really become whatever you want it to be. A few classic Indian spices, like cumin, turmeric, and coriander are a must, along with onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, and green chiles (which give the dish its signature heat), but otherwise the choice of ingredients is up to you. Meat is not necessary; in fact, chickpeas are arguably even a better contender for jalfrezi, as stir-frying them causes their outer skin to crisp and crunch up while their interior remains tender, which makes for a more texturally interesting version. If you love chana masala but want to broaden your Indian repertoire, chana jalfrezi is it.

Get a Recipe: Chickpea, Potato, and Spinach Jalfrezi with Cilantro Chutney from Serious Eats

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