“Britain is no longer totally a white place where people ride horses, wear long frocks and drink tea. The national dish is no longer fish and chips, it’s curry” (Marianne Jean-Baptiste).
In Britain Indian curries have found a very special place. The very famous Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets in East London painted a new canvas of food frame for Britain in the 70’s that was unprecedented i.e. the fondness of Asian spices and so Chicken Tikka trended up to the top to be known as Britain’s most favourite curry. Nonetheless, just when the English cuisine thought that that was the pennicle of Asian food, well, in walked Chicken Jalfarezi. The spicy sweet and extremely piquant curry became an instant zenith for the English food culture and people couldn’t wait to dig into its spirited flavours. Now, in the present day, almost every restaurant in Britain carries the dish on its menu.
“jhal” in the Bangladeshi language means “spicy” and “farezi” means “stir-fry”. Jalfarezi originated during the British Raj with cooks tossing leftover roast dinners and perhaps, in my opinion, accidentally innovating a new dish. Back then the dish was very different from the present one with it’s variations according to region in Asia but however it was cooked back in the Raj, it couldn’t have been very different from what we have today. Ofcourse with every predecessor version, there are always changes but if those changes are favourable to your palate and senses, it’s a culmination of brilliant creativity, just be grateful the dish is in existence and known to you.
As a personal favourite of mine, I can vouch for one thing, this curry grabs your heart by the strings. It is tangy, zesty, sweet and perfectly balanced in heat and the combination of all that proffers nothing less of a gorgeously flavoured taste for your palate.
The cooking of the dish is pretty simple. In order to extract full flavour marinade the chicken cubes for atleast 30 minutes to an hour if you are pressed with time. If not, overnight marinated meat is always more flavoursome with spices beautifully incorporated and sunk well into the meat and like personalized colours of a flag of a country, green, red and yellow is the flag of this dish.
Apart from colours, the sweetness of the peppers contrasted with the tangy tomato based curry is a subtle blend and it’s absolutely harmonious and like ideal cooking of vegetables, keep them crunchy and colourful. In this particular dish, I would suggest you refrain from over cooking the peppers and onion because the raw zest of them is what makes this dish wholesome delicious. If you over cook the veggies, they will shrink and wrinkle and start releasing water which will make the curry liquidy and Jalfarezi is a thick curry based dish. With the onions, if they turn Brown, the whole dish will just die of flavour. The best thing to do is to fry the peppers and onion at the very end when the curry is ready, and fry them for only 3-5 minutes. They will retain their crunch and colour and will give a mouth watering fragrance to the whole dish.
So, next time if you are in a hurry and fancy something quick, satiating and satisfying, Jalfarezi is perfect for you as it’s rightly said, “keep calm and curry on”, this dish will beguile your senses for sure.
Chicken Marinade ~
1. Chicken cubes — 1 kg
2. Cumin powder — 2 tsp
3. Coriander powder — 2 tsp
4. Turmeric powder — 1 tsp
5. All-spice — 1 tsp
6. Vinegar — 4 tsp
7. Soya sauce — 4 tsp
8. Black pepper — 1 tsp
9. Salt — ½ tsp
Gravy Mix ~
1. Garlic cloves crushed — 6
2. Ginger crushed — 1 tsp
3. Tomato paste — 2 tbsp
4. Tomato blended — 4
5. Green chilies — 2
6. Oil — 1/2 cup
7. Green Bell Pepper — 2
8. Red bell Pepper — 2
9. Yellow Bell Pepper — 2
10. Onion — 4
11. Salt — ½ tsp
12. Rice — 2 cups
1. Marinade the chicken
a. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients listed under chicken marinade and add in the chicken cubes.
b. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or preferably over night.
2. Gravy Mix
a. Take out about 2 tbsp of oil from the oil in the recipe to fry the peppers later.
b. Heat the rest of the oil in a wok or cooking vessel and add the crushed garlic and ginger.
c. Fry for a few seconds and add the marinated chicken.
d. Stir fry the chicken for 5-6 minutes and add the salt, tomato paste, tomato puree and green chilies.
e. Add a dash of water and let cook until the oil separates and the chicken is cooked through.
f. In another fry pan, heat the oil reserved in the beginning and adds all the bell peppers and onions cut into cubes to the oil.
g. Stir fry the veggies for only 5 minutes. The vegetables should be crunchy and crisp and retain its color.
h. Add the veggies to the prepared chicken gravy and mix.
i. Let steam for 2 minutes.
j. Boil the rice with salt and serve with the jalfarezi.
~ Happy Foodieating ~