Chicken Jalfrezi

This popular jalfrezi was created during the British Raj to use up cold cooked meat. This recipe comes from Kolkata, where jalfrezi was frequently served to the members of the East India Company.

Serves 4


1 lb 9 oz/700g boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
5 tablespoons sunflower oil or olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic paste
2 teaspoons ginger paste
1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2-1 teaspoons chili powder
5 1/2 ox/150 g canned chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup warm water
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces
1 teaspoons garam masala
Indian bread or cooked basmati rice, to serve

Cut the chicken into 1 inch/2.5 cm cubes and put in a nonmetallic bowl. Add the lemon juice and half the salt and rub well into the chicken. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 8-9 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oil separates from the spice paste.

Add the marinated chicken, increase the heat slightly, and cook, stirring, until it changes color. Add the warm water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add the bell peppers, increase the heat to medium, and stir-fry for two minutes, then stir in the garam masala. Fold the bell pepper mixture into the curry. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with Indian bread or cooked basmati rice.