2 June 2011

Chicken Jhalfrezi - not only a healthier version, but delicious too.

Well, I finally got around to cooking the Chicken Jhalfrezi that Asda prevented me from cooking last week.  This week, they delivered all the required ingredients and I was able to set to following on from our tour of the New Forest and get currying.

I had been a bit nervous of this recipe, as I know how suspicious hubby can be of curry recipes that purport to be "lighter" or "healthier" than your average butter-rich, nut-laden, creamy curry.

However, this one had a nice mixture of ingredients that looked as though they would go well together - and I had a brand new pack of Garam Masala.  I know that these spice mixes can get a bit dull as you get towards the bottom of the pack, plus this was from a new manufacturer.  It turned out to be much sweeter and more fragrant than the Garam Masala we'd had last time - and was absolutely perfect for this dish.

The original recipe - from Mallika Basu (who I'm afraid I've never heard of) - asked for chicken thighs, but as neither hubby nor son are terribly impressed by chicken thighs, we went for the more agreeable skinless and boneless breasts.  I can't say we missed the extra flavour that the thighs bring.

The recipe suggested just naan bread as an accompaniment, but I knew that wouldn't go down terribly well as we do like a bit of rice (and rice is a lot cheaper than providing naan bread for everyone, particularly as we like Peshwari naan over the plainer variety).  So, I cooked up a small portion of basmati rice and we shared two Peshwari naans between the three of us.  In truth, however, we didn't need the bread as the rice was ample.

I really enjoyed this dish.  I used watercress as the salad greens - largely because I love the stuff and know that it is incredibly good for you.  However, hubby's comment that baby spinach would have been equally good, was valid and I will probably give that a go next time.  There is most definitely going to be a next time, as the flavour of the Jhalfrezi was so light and tangy that it went extraordinarily well with the lemon juice & salt dressed salad greens.

I am never happier (well, maybe that's a bit of a push, but I'm pretty darned happy) than when I have been able to serve something up to the family that I know was a) economical, b) nutritionally good for them and c) tastes fantastic.  This one scores on all three counts.


Ingredients :

3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small strips
3 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt (I used Greek)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp turmeric
half a tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 medium onions
1 large tomato (or two medium vine tomatoes)
2 green peppers (one large, one small will do for 3 people)
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
half a tsp of grated garlic or garlic paste
1 tsp grated ginger or ginger paste
2 heaped tsp Garam Masala
25g fresh coriander, roughly chopped.

Method :

1.  Place the chicken in a bowl and add the yoghurt, tomato puree, turmeric and chilli flakes, plus the lemon juice.  Mix well, cover and leave to marinate.

2.  Whilst the chicken is marinating, peel and slice the onions, then slice the tomatoes and green peppers into 1cm slices.

3.  Warm the oil in a wok set over a high heat.  Once it is hot, fry the onions and green pepper for 2-3 minutes until softened, then add the garlic and ginger and fry until aromatic.

4.  Next, add the chicken with its marinade and stir vigorously for 5 minutes or until the meat is sealed evenly.  Add the tomato slices and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

5.  Finally, add the Garam Masala and mix through.  Cover the wok and cook for a further 2 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Continue to cook until the sauce is greatly reduced.

6.  Stir in the coriander, taste to check the seasoning and serve on a bed of watercress or spinach dressed in lemon juice and salt.


  1. Now this I'm intregued by. Many years ago I took a year off to learn Indian cooking. Jalfrezi remains one of my regular dishes from all those years ago. The one I was taught uses a huge complicated combination of spices, in addition to the garam masala. Your one is also cooked quite differently, without the masala base, which is going to overcome my problem of my jalfrezi never quite having an identity.

    Next 'event' when I do a big Indian style cook-up I shall be trying Jalfrezi your way!

  2. It was quite different to my experience of a Jalfrezi as produced by the local Indian Takeaway, too. Still whatever it was, it was excellent - and for me, the thing that made it was the salad leaves with the lemon juice and salt. Without that, it would have lost a lot of its layers of taste.

  3. my mouth is watering so much!!! i think i'll just have to give it a go - trying to broaden my horizon, had the same curry for ages! trying michel rouxs cashew curry this week but must remember this one for next!!

  4. Well, when you have a chance to have a go at it, do let me know what you thought, Shauna. Even if you hated it - it's good to have a bit of feedback! :)


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