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Chicken or Lamb Jalfrezi

Bowl of chicken jalfrezi with chopped coriander on top.
Not quite a one pot meal because you’ll want to add a portion of naan or rice as accompaniment but I’ve not yet tested adding rice (or a root vegetable such as sweet potatoes) to make it a true one pot and to be honest, this is so delicious a little chap sits on my shoulder each time I plan to make a big batch and whispers “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So maybe I’ll stick to this recipe for another while.

I started making this a few years ago, based on a low fat recipe from, I think, an NHS website providing healthy recipes for those diagnosed with diabetes but I’ve added lots of ideas from other sources over time to make this the “go to” recipe for jalfrezi. Quite how jars of curry paste fit into healthy eating I’m not sure (and I always feel such a cheat using them!) but this is so popular that all thoughts of fat content and calories go out the window and we just tuck in, surfacing only to utter the occasional “nom”. And one jar of paste spread over 6 portions isn’t that bad, is it?

Planning ahead – try and bag up the meat with the spices overnight (I’ve often put the partially thawed meat in a bag along with the marinade spices and defrosted it overnight in the fridge).

Oh and you’ll need two large pans, one to cook the meat, the other to make the sauce. One of those pans needs to be big enough to hold both meat and sauce.

I’ve always used Patak’s jalfrezi paste for this (you can order it on Amazon.com!); when I’m making a larger batch for the freezer I’ll use 2 jars of jalfrezi and 1 of madras or 1 each of jalfrezi, madras and vindaloo.

Lastly, don’t panic if you don’t have one of the spices. Run out of mustard seeds and the stores are closed? Use mustard powder! I find that searching for something like substitute mustard seeds can get you really good results.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

Chicken (or lamb) Jalfrezi

Ingredients for 6 generous portions

For the meat marinade

500 g chicken pieces, skin removed, washed and diced (breasts, thighs, drumsticks are all good)
or 500g lamb, diced
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp hot curry powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp hot chilli flakes

For the curry sauce

2 medium leeks or onions, peeled and diced
1 bulb of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 peppers (any colour), de-seeded and sliced or cubed (1″pieces)
2 carrots, sliced (if you have them, makes it go a bit further)
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 red chillies, deseeded, finely chopped (if using “lazy man’s chilli” instead, use a LOT)
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes and/or pack of passata
6-8 or so fresh tomatoes, quartered (great way to use up tomatoes that are past their best)
About 400ml chicken or vegetable stock (Knorr stockpots are ideal for this)
½ jar curry paste (e.g.jalfrezi, madras) (you’ll use the other half of the jar to cook the meat)
4 tbs vegetable oil (or ghee or butter)

For cooking the meat

The marinaded chicken (or lamb)
1-2 tbs ghee, butter or oil (I always use sunflower oil)
2 tbs tomato puree
½ jar curry paste (the other half of the jar you’ve used for the curry sauce)

Making the jalfrezi

  1. Place the diced meat into a large plastic bag and add the marinade ingredients, ensuring that all meat is coated thoroughly. Leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours, much better if you can leave it overnight.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables then heat the oil in a large pan.
  3. Add the ½ jar curry paste, fry for one minute, stirring continuously.
  4. Add the diced leeks (or onions), chillies, bell peppers and ginger then fry for a few minutes.
  5. Add the cans of chopped tomatoes, passata & stock, bring to the boil then reduce heat & simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cooking the meat while the sauce is simmering

  1. Heat the oil or ghee in a large pan or wok then add the other half of the jalfrezi paste, cook for a minute.
  2. Add the marinated chicken or lamb and fry for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chilli powder or flakes and tomato puree and cook on a low heat until the meat is cooked through.
  4. Add the curry sauce and stir through. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add a little extra stock or passata if needed.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Serve with rice and/or naan.

Photo courtesy Thomas Mathie.

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