June 28, 2022

Jalfrezi – Not like Chinese Stir-fry!

Jalfrezi is a hot stir-fry dish that can be further cultivated into a curry dish. The word Jalfrezi means ‘Hot-fry’. The Jalfrezi cooking style originated in Bengal and is among the popular styles of cooking in the whole Indian Subcontinent. The neighboring countries of India also prefer the Jalfrezi style of curry making to enrich their lives with the taste of this dish. The dish is a dry curry usually made with a combination of vegetables in a unique street-style tomato sauce. The main ingredient in a Jalfrezi is the meat or protein, or in the case of vegetarians, the main ingredients used are Paneer or a variety of vegetables. These main ingredients are stir-fried and served in a thick spicy sauce, usually made of tomatoes and green chilies. The other ingredients in the Jalfrezi are bell peppers and onions.

Jalfrezi was a cooking technique that originated in British India. It was used to use leftover ingredients, frying them up along with fresh green chilies, paprika, coriander, and onions. It is served alongside pulao, an Indian rice dish. The English-speaking population derived the word ‘Jalfrezi’ from the Colloquial Bengali term ‘jhāl porhezī‘, where jhāl means spicy Food; porhezī means suitable for a diet. Often prepared by the British households, where after a large roast dinner, the leftovers were fried and put in the fresh Jalfrezi curry, which was not only delicious but also the excess meats and vegetables from the previous day’s roast were utilized to feed. This dish was invented in the city of Joy, Calcutta (now Kolkata), the capital of West Bengal. In the 2011 survey, Jalfrezi was rated as the most popular dish in the UK Indian and broader South Asian restaurants. 

By this time, we are clear that Jalfrezi is a curry or sabzi dish that uses onion and tomato-based bases with the addition of purpose-based spices. But One such unique tomato-based curry is the Veg Jalfrezi which is known for its adaptation of the Indo-Chinese cuisine. This recipe adopts the best from all the cuisine in the Indian Subcontinent and serves you the most delicious fusion dish on a platter of Indian Spices. Indo-Chinese uses the tossing and frying of many veg ingredients, which is also prominent in this dish. But the only difference is that the stir-frying vegetables of Vegetable Jalfrezi, which is close to the Chinese Vegetable stir-frying, is that the dish appeared in British India’s cookbooks to use leftovers and not throw or waste them. This dish does not restrict the chef and allows them to use any number of fresh or leftover Food that is best for a tasty diet. Even though with its good history, many categorize it as another Indo-Chinese Cuisine, it is not the case. In the British Raj in India, people deemed it a sign of respectability to be thrifty and economical in the kitchen.

The Jalfrezi on British India was a great example of such creativity in the kitchen. This was not only prepared faster than other Indian Dishes but also brought Indian Food to a highlight in the British Raj because of its efficient use of the remnants and repurposing them in preparing a new dish. Moreover, Jalfrezi curries are a great way to take out more relaxing time, thus, making it an awesome midweek meal or a different dish for a multi-dish banquet. You can also get these Indian Delicacies at one of the best Indian Restaurants like Little India in Denver, Colorado. Come and taste some of the best Indian Food here in Denver!


Jalfrezi: A Flavorful Departure from Chinese Stir-Fry

Indian food is a captivating journey through a multitude of flavors and culinary traditions. Among the rich array of dishes, Jalfrezi stands out as a unique and vibrant contribution to Indian cuisine. Often compared to Chinese stir-fry due to its stir-frying technique, Jalfrezi is a medley of Indian spices and ingredients that make it distinctly Indian.

A Whiff of Indian Spices:

Indian spices, known for their aromatic richness and versatility, play a starring role in Jalfrezi. The combination of spices used may vary, but you can expect a harmonious blend of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. This spice medley infuses the dish with its characteristic flavor and heat.

The Art of Stir-Frying:

While Jalfrezi’s stir-frying technique might draw parallels to Chinese cuisine, it’s essential to note the distinctions. Jalfrezi starts with the tempering of spices in hot oil, followed by the quick stir-frying of vegetables and protein. The goal is to achieve a flavorful dish with a slight char and a hint of smokiness.

The Versatility of Jalfrezi:

Jalfrezi is incredibly versatile, allowing for a range of ingredient choices. Whether you prefer chicken, shrimp, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), or a medley of vegetables, you can create a Jalfrezi tailored to your taste. This adaptability is one of the reasons Jalfrezi has gained popularity both in India and beyond.

Creating Jalfrezi: A Step-By-Step Guide:

Here’s how you can prepare Jalfrezi at home:


  • Protein (Chicken, Shrimp, Paneer, or Vegetables)
  • Onions, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Green Chilies
  • Indian Spices (Cumin, Coriander, Turmeric, Chili Powder)
  • Garlic and Ginger Paste
  • Oil or Ghee (Clarified Butter)


  1. Temper the Spices: Heat oil or ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds. Let them sizzle, then add garlic and ginger paste and sauté until fragrant.
  2. Sauté the Onions: Add chopped onions and cook until they turn translucent.
  3. Add Spices: Sprinkle the coriander, turmeric, and chili powder over the onions. Stir well to coat the onions evenly.
  4. Add Protein and Vegetables: Add your choice of protein and vegetables (bell peppers, tomatoes, and green chilies work well). Stir-fry over high heat until they develop a slight char and are cooked through.
  5. Serve Hot: Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice or Indian bread like naan or roti.

Conclusion: A Flavorful Fusion:

Jalfrezi is a testament to India’s ability to embrace culinary influences and create something uniquely its own. While it might share some cooking techniques with Chinese stir-fry, the infusion of Indian spices and ingredients transforms it into a vibrant and distinct dish.

So, the next time you savor a plate of Jalfrezi, appreciate the fusion of flavors that make it a delightful departure from the ordinary. It’s a dish that showcases the artistic interplay of Indian spices and cooking techniques, making it an essential part of the tapestry of Indian cuisine.