Learn how to make Restaurant Style Paneer Jalfrezi ~ A quick stir fry of paneer, bell peppers, onion and tomato in a spicy tomato paste
India is the largest producer of milk and it is no surprise that we Indians love milk and milk produce. Starting our day with strong milky coffee or tea, we integrate milk and milk products in various recipes. And our meal is incomplete without a glass of yogurt or buttermilk, either spiced with few green chillies, cumin powder etc or sweetened with sugar. Milk, yogurt, buttermilk, ghee, butter and cream are part and parcel of Indian meals. And there is one more milk product which we all love, Paneer.
Ingredients for Paneer Jalfrezi
Restaurant Style Paneer Jalfrezi Recipe
It is Paneer or Indian cottage cheese and there are very few who doesn’t like Paneer. Paneer is used in many dishes like the ever popular Matar Paneer, Kadai Paneer, Nawabi Paneer, Paneer Butter Masala (Fried cottage cheese served in creamy and buttery onion-tomato gravy), Malai Kofta (Deep fried cheese dumplings in rich, creamy tomato gravy), Paneer Tikka (grilled paneer cubes marinated in spicy yogurt), Paneer Paratha and many more. Since the large population are pure vegetarians in India, the use of milk and milk produce are given more importance for their protein and calcium supplements and Paneer is something which is loved by all, especially the little ones. Lil Dumpling is no exception and he loves Paneer cooked in mild gravies. Bored of making same paneer curries, I ventured into little adventure of making spicy Restaurant Style Paneer Jalfrezi.
According to the survey conducted in 2011 in UK the spicy Chicken Jalfrezi is the most popular dish, replacing the most loved mild tasting creamy Chicken Tikka Masala in popularity. As people get more adventurous with their taste buds, it is natural to dig deep into the history of the dish that makes our taste buds tickle with joy!
Like most curries served in Indian restaurants and curry houses across the world, the curry served today is the different version of the original curries that were cooked decades or the centuries ago. Like Chicken Tikka Masala, the origin of Jalfrezi goes back to the days of the British Raj. The British in India were homesick for good old British roast dinners and boiled vegetables and almost always had a lot of leftover food. This leftover food was used in cooking
Like other well known curries, the curry house Jalfrezi is quite a lot different than what it was when it was first cooked back in the days of the British Raj. You see, the British that lived and worked in India at the time were homesick for good old British style cooking. They loved their roast dinners and boiled vegetables. The well to do amongst them were also known to have thrown huge parties where they ate and drank loads and almost always had a lot of food left over. Since wasting this food was not an option, they asked their servants to give makeovers to these leftovers. The result was the Chicken Jalfrezi, a hot stir fry of chillies, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. It is believed that the Chicken Jalfrezi was originated in Calcutta or Kolkatta as the word Jalfrezi is the colloquial Bengali word jhālpharezī: in Bengali, jhāl means spicy food; in Urdu/Persian, parhezī means suitable for a diet.
The vegetarian version of Jalfrezi like Vegetable Jalfrezi and Paneer Jalfrezi doesn’t actually use any leftovers and it is one of the quick dishes you can whip up to those last minute guests. You can use paneer to make Paneer Jalfrezi or if you are a vegan, you can make the Vegetable Jalfrezi by just skipping the paneer or add firm tofu and follow the same recipe. The following recipe is a drier version with little bit of sauce just to coat the paneer and vegetable pieces. If you want to make a gravy version of the Paneer Jalfrezi, simply add a cup of fresh cream just towards the end of cooking process and let it simmer for few minutes. I make it mildly spicy as I serve this to my whole family including my 4 years old son. So feel free to add more green chillies if you like your Paneer Jalfrezi to be kicking hot! :)
You can serve this Paneer Jalfrezi as a side dish with fresh Naan or Basmati rice or be little creative and serve it as a stuffing for sandwich or even wraps (use whole wheat pita bread or tortillas) with few salad leaves, tomato, onion and cucumber slices.
Restaurant Style Paneer Jalfrezi (A quick stir fry of paneer, bell peppers, onion and tomato in a spicy tomato paste)
Prep Time: 10-15 mins
Cooking Time: 20-25 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium to High
Serves: 5-6 People
Shelf Life: Up to 3 days in refrigerator and up to a month when frozen
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads or with aromatic basmati rice (read notes)
250 gms Paneer, cut into 2 inch by ½ inch long pieces (Approx 2 cups)
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
2-3 Green Chillies, slit (Adjust as per taste)
1 Green Capsicum/Pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 large Tomato, deseeded and sliced
¾ - 1 cup Tomato Puree
1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup (Optional, but recommended)
½ tsp Sugar (Optional, but recommended)
½ Lime, juice extracted
1 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped (Optional)
1 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
¼ tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
½-1 tsp Red Chilli Powder (Adjust as per taste)
1½ heaped tsp Dhania/Coriander Powder
¼-½ tsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves, crushed between finger tips
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
- Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When cumin starts to sizzle and turn deep brown, add sliced onions and saute for 2 minutes.
- Next add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and fry for 2 minutes on medium flame until the raw smell disappears.
- Mix in turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and crushed kasuri methi and give it a quick stir.
- Add tomato puree, tomato ketchup, sugar and salt to taste and cook it for 4-5 minutes on medium flame, stirring in between. Sugar helps in cutting the sharp taste of tomato.
- Toss in bell pepper and cook for a minute or two. Add paneer pieces and tomato slices and gently stir them so that each paneer pieces is nicely coated with the masala. Please take care not to break the paneer pieces. Cook them for 2 minutes.
- Turn off the gas and add garam masala, finely chopped coriander leaves and lime juice and mix them well.
- Let it rest covered for 5-10 minutes for the flavours to blend well. Serve this delicious Paneer Jalfrezi with any Indian flat breads or with plain Basmati rice or with flavoured Basmati rice and enjoy!
Restaurant style Paneer Jalfrezi Recipe
- You can serve this Paneer Jalfrezi as a side dish with fresh Naan or Basmati rice or be little creative and serve it as a stuffing for sandwich or even wraps (use whole wheat pita bread or tortillas or roti) with few salad leaves or lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber slices.
- If you are a vegan, you can make the Vegetable Jalfrezi by just skipping the paneer or add firm tofu and follow the same recipe. The following recipe is a drier version with little bit of sauce just to coat the paneer and vegetable pieces.
- If you want to make a gravy version of the Paneer Jalfrezi, simply add a cup of fresh cream just towards the end of cooking process and let it simmer for few minutes.