The beauty of this homestyle Chicken Jalfrezi I recipe that I got from my mother lies in the balance of flavours - the mellow tart of tomatoes, the perfume of green peppers, the assertiveness of black pepper, and the umami of soy sauce.
Where does your sense of food come from? Does it come from restaurants or from the kitchens of your childhood?
In most cases it's from those kitchens with their whirring fan and the comforting cluttered noises of cooking. This recipe is a Pakistani Chicken Recipe I hold close to my heart because I had it so very often growing up. It's probably to me what this One Pot Chicken Pulao is to my kids.
Restaurant Style Chicken Jalfrezi vs Homestyle Chicken Jalfrezi
Chicken Jalfrezi is an interesting dish - it is supposed to originate in the Indian subcontinent during the British Raj. A quick cooking dish that borrows from Chinese cooking in some of it's ingredients and technique, it like many others, has since come to be made in a variety of ways.
In Pakistan, even in restaurants, the flavour profile leans more Pakistani with a hint of Chinese. In other places it is more heavily Chinese, but with a hefty garam masala note. There are versions that are closer to a Chicken Shashlik in their addition of ketchup and assorted peppers.
Each variation tastes distinctly different. This homestyle one as said above leans on the trifecta of green pepper (shimla mirch), freshly cracked black pepper, and soy sauce for it's well balanced flavour.
Chicken Jalfrezi Ingredients
This Easy Chicken Jalfrezi is a dish that like my Chicken Masala here starts with an onion base vs a classic Karahi which is decidedly onion free. The ingredient that truly sets Chicken Jalfrezi apart though is Green Pepper or Capsicum.
I have to confess at this point that I like the Urdu name - Shimla Mirch - a lot more. More personality you know? I've discussed my love for Shimla Mirch before in this simple sabzi, but every time I add it into a dish I am reminded of it's transformative effect.
This Easy Chicken Jalfrezi Recipe also has one other distinguishing feature and that is the addition of soy sauce, a traditionally Asian ingredient. The soy sauce adds an umami that can't be beat.
I must confess though that we always had ajinomoto in it growing up, but since public opinion has swung against it I don't use it anymore.
How to Make Chicken Jalfrezi
Saute an onions till the edges start to change colour, then add the chicken, ginger, garlic, red chilli powder, and salt. Saute on medium high heat until the chicken entirely changes colour.
Note: You must NOT brown the onions, that rich caramel note combats the beautiful flavour of green pepper in a way that detracts from it.
Now add in your tomatoes, mix well. Cover your dish, bring to a robust simmer and drop the heat to low. Cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.
Your chicken should be nice and tender by now. Increase the heat and bhunn the masala, so that the oil rises above it.
Add your green pepper, black pepper, soy sauce, and one of your green chilies. Cook partially covered to desired doneness and adjust seasoning. I will fully confess we like our green peppers tender not tender crisp!
What do I serve with Chicken Jalfrezi?
You guys know menu building is my favorite! Here are some simple ideas for menus.
Want some more Pakistani Chicken Recipe inspiration?
Made this recipe? Rate it below by clicking the number of stars you'd want to give it! I'd love to see your recreations so don't forget to tag me on Instagram!
Chicken Jalfrezi - Pakistani Homestyle
- Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in a wok or saucepan with a lid
- Add the onions and saute on medium heat until the edges start to change colour.
- Now stir in the chicken, ginger paste, garlic paste, and sauces and saute until the colour changes.
- Mix in the tomatoes and simmer covered until the chicken is tender. This takes me roughly 20 minutes from previously frozen chicken, fresh is usually quicker.
- Add the soy sauce, green peppers, black pepper, and one green chili and mix well and cook partially covered until the green pepper is cooked to your desired doneness. Tender-crisp takes 5 to 7 minutes.
- Final steps: adjust consistency, then seasoning, and add the remaining green chilies slit lengthwise.
- for a smokier taste you can add a little roasted coriander powder at the end. I would use garam masala with caution, a garam masala with stronger notes of mace/nutmeg wouldn't work in this dish!
- If your tomatoes are a little lackluster then feel free to add a little tomato paste at the end