Vegetable Jalfrezi

Vegetable Jalfrezi

Vegetable Jalfrezi – served here with a second curry made of lentils and spinach with fenugreek.

It didn’t seem to matter what I added to my curry, it never seemed to come out quite like the restaurants. So in desperation one day, I tried a new approach to really maximise the flavours, and it worked!

This recipe captures the tangy flavours of curry house jalfrezi. It’s so tasty… but beware it is laced with raw chillies!  The trick is adding lots of the flavoursome ingredients right near the end of cooking…

Serves 4 if accompanied with rice and/or breads.

You will need:

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable ghee (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ‘black onion seeds’ (aka nigella / kalonji)
  • 3 medium onions (yes 3!)
  • 3 Tbsp Jalfrezi spice mix – which you can buy in a packet, or use the following combination:
    • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
    • 2 tsp coriander powder
    • 2 tsp cumin powder
    • 2 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp fennel
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of peas (I use frozen for convenience, but you could boil some fresh peas or use tinned ones if you prefer)
  • 4 fresh tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon (freshly squeezed!)
  • A fistful of fresh coriander leaves
  • Fresh green birds eye chillies to taste (I use 6-8)


1. Scrub or peel your potatoes, chop into 1″ (2.5cm) cubes, and boil in salted water for 10 minutes. Set aside until needed.

2. Briefly fry the cumin seeds and onion seeds in the vegetable ghee or oil until they become fragrant but not burnt (usually 30-60 seconds).

3. Add two of the onions, having chopped and one very coarsely and one very finely. The third one needs to be grated finely. This will make you cry, lots, deal with it – it’s worth it. The onions are a really important part of the tasty sauce. Let them for quite some time, around 5-10 minutes on a low to medium heat, stirring regularly as you don’t want them to burn or get too crispy. Golden brown is what you’re aiming for, but not charred.

4. Add your spice mix and garlic and fry for another minute or two, again the spices should become aromatic but not burn. With the garlic, chop two cloves coarsely, crush one (or chop finely), and retain one for later…

5. Add your tinned chopped tomatoes, peas, and the potatoes you cooked earlier, and simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. This also allows the peas to defrost, if frozen ones used, and the potatoes to absorb the flavours.

7. Just before serving, cut your fresh tomatoes into wedges. Retain a few wedges for garnish, and stir the rest into your curry. At the same time add the final clove of garlic (crushed), lemon juice, and shredded fresh coriander (again, saving some for garnish). Don’t forget the most important bit if you enjoy bursts of chilli joy: your fresh green birds eye chillies, which can either be added whole (with the stems removed), or cut in half down the middle. Heat these things through briefly, enough to combine well, but not so much that they lose their flavour and tang – i.e 2 minutes is plenty before removing the pan from the heat.

8. Garnish with the remaining tomato wedges, coriander, optional additional fresh chillies, and optional wedge of lemon.


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