Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jalfrezi – Delicacy from Anglo Indian Cuisine

Foodie Memoirs

Delicacy from Anglo Indian Cuisine
A Colourful Spicy Sweet and Sour Stir Fry Dish

From my Foodie Archives: 

Mouthwatering Memories of the delicious Jalfrezi I relished 7 years ago in the year 2010... 


At the customary sumptuous buffet lunch following my niece’s engagement at Avion Hotel in Mumbai – I was pleasantly surprised to see Veg Jalfrezi on the menu.

My mouth watered – as I looked at this appetizingly colourful dish comprising crisp crunchy tempting panoply of vegetables – onions, tomatoes, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, beans, green peas, potatoes, green chillies…

I placed a generous helping of Jalfrezi on my tongue – I closed my eyes. 

The Jalfrezi was exceptional – the vegetables fresh and crunchy – and the distinctive flavoursome, zesty, spicy, sweet and sour taste clearly coming through.

WHAT IS JALFREZI  Definition and Meaning of Jalfrezi

When I was a small boy  Jalfrezi – both the Veg and Non-Veg version – was a regular feature on restaurant menus.

It was the onslaught of Punjabi and Mughlai Cuisines  the increasing popularity of the Kormas, the Koftas, the “Kadhai” and “Butter” Makhanwala Curries and Gravies  the preponderance of the ubiquitous paneer  that gradually pushed Jalfrezi out of most popular menus  and now one gets this unique dish Jalfrezi only at select restaurants.

The stir-fry Jalfrezi method of cooking is different from the traditional Indian Curry Recipes. 

In fact – Jalfrezi is an Anglo-Indian Cuisine Dish - a relic of the British Raj  yes – a colonial culinary legacy of the erstwhile British India Raj.

Jalfrezi is not a curry or gravy. 

Jalfrezi is a stir fry dish which must look colourful – and you must be able to identify the various vegetables (and meats, if any) – which should be of crisp consistency – and must taste lip-smacking yummy.

Jalfrezi literally means “hot-fry” – but the word Jalfrezi is probably better translated as stir-fry

The term Jalfrezi entered the English language at the time of the British Raj in India. 

Colonial households employed Indian cooks who would use the Jalfrezi method of “hot-fry” cooking to heat up cold roasted meat and potatoes. 

Some say that during the Raj  the British created this method of reheating left-overs – especially left-over meats.

Others say that Jalfrezi has its roots in the Calcutta (Kolkata) region of India at the time of the British Raj. 

They credit the Governor General for the state of Bengal  Lord Marcus Sandys – who enjoyed spicy Indian foods – for inventing this dish called Jalfrezi 

In Bengal  Jhal means spicy hot” or “pungent

Maybe – Jhal” led to Jal”  and to this – they probably added “fry” and “jee” – which probably became “zee” – so: 


HOW TO MAKE JALFREZI  a simple Recipe for Jalfrezi

It is easy rustle up a delicious Jalfrezi

To put in simple words  Jalfrezi is a simple dish – the Indian version of Chinese Stir-Fry – made with curry spices.

Take a variety of vegetables  onions, tomatoes, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, beans, green peas, potatoes, green chillies – yes  plenty of green chillies to make it zesty and spicy. 

Cut the vegetables into small pieces

Slice a few onions – and – grate a few onions.

Remember that this a 
Stir-Fry recipe – so you have to keep stirring vigorously throughout the cooking process.

Heat oil in a pan – add cumin seeds – when they sputter add the grated onions and stir. 

When onions are translucent – stir in ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, a nice amount of red chilli powder and coriander powder – stir – yes – stir continuously and vigorously because Jalfrezi is a Stir-Fry dish.

If you want to the Jalfrezi to be a bit sumptuous  you may add some rich creamy paste – roasted cashew-nut, almond and dry fruit paste. 

Stir the mixture till it starts separating from sides of the pan. 

Now add all the vegetables to the hot stir-fried paste  yes – add the chopped tomatoes, sliced onions and slit whole green chillies. 

Stir continuously till cooked crisp and crunchy. 

The tomatoes will release adequate moisture  but should the vegetables stick to the pan – you may add a bit of water – but not too much  otherwise the vegetables will lose their crispness and crunchiness.

Season with salt  garnish with fresh green coriander – and eat hot with piping hot rotis, chapattis or with fresh soft buns or pav.

As I said earlier  Jalfrezi is not a curry or gravy –  it a Stir-Fry dish which must look appetizingly colourful – and you must be able to identify the various vegetables – and meats  if any – which be of crisp consistency and yummy zesty taste.

I prefer not to overwhelm my Jalfrezi with too many spices and chillies – but if you like it nice and spicy  go ahead.

You can make Jalfrezi with your choice of meat too – chicken or mutton or lamb  but in deference to the wishes of one of my favourite vegetarian readers (who says that I always give Non-Veg recipes) – this time I have given you the Vegetarian version of Jalfrezi

You can make non-veg Jalfrezi exactly the same way - I prefer boneless chicken or mutton  but the choice is yours.

Tell me  Dear Reader  isn’t the recipe for Jalfrezi breathtaking in its simplicity...?

Try it. 

Cook it and relish the Jalfrezi to your heart’s content. 

You’ll love it.

Happy Eating...!!! 

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1. This recipe is based on my improvisation. You are requested to do your own due diligence and use ingredients/cooking method as per your discretion/style.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

I wrote this recipe long back – around 7 years ago  and have posted it online a number of times earlier including at urls: and  etc

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