What is Jalfrezi?
Jalfrezi is an Indian version of Chinese stir-fry, made with spices. Some restaurants also adapted the method to stir-fry marinated meats. All Jalfrezi dishes have visible pieces of onions and capsicum or a variety of sweet peppers, tomatoes and hot chilli peppers. You can make a vegetarian version with more vegetables.
During the Raj era, the British created this method of reheating left-overs. Lord Marcus Sandys, the Governor General of Bengal, is credited with its creation. He enjoyed eating spicy Indian foods and is acknowledged for converting Tamarind/Jaggery Chutney into Worcestershire sauce.
Choosing oils for frying
Do not use ghee or butter. You can use any plant oil of your choice such as olive, vegetable or mustard oil. When using mustard oil, first heat it to almost smoking, let it cool, and then re-heat for frying. This gives an interesting edge.
For Jalfrezi, the vegetables must be dense, yet neither starchy nor watery.
Vegetables that need not be blanched
- Onions, like red onions, add colour to the dish.
- Capsicum or sweet peppers of different colours red, green or yellow. You can even make Jalfrezi of just various coloured capsicum or sweet peppers, zucchini and paneer. Discard seeds.
- Large zucchini cut into chunky wedges.
Vegetables that need to be blanched
- String beans
Vegetables to avoid
- Green Peas
- Greens such as spinach or mustard
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What is Aalan?
Aalan is a slurry made of water and besan (chickpea) or maki (cornflour). Many restaurants use tomato puree or tomato paste to give the Jalfrezi some body. In Punjab, besan aalan and makki aalan are used to give body to saag. In Chinese cuisine, a slurry of corn starch and water is used to give body to the stir-fry. It is the same concept.
Use these ideas and Latasha’s Kitchen Tikka Simmer Sauce to make a variety of Vegetable, Chicken or Seafood Jalfrezi.