Murgh Jalfrazie (Chicken with Stir-Fried Spices)

Serves 4


  • 700g/1lb 9oz boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 5 tbsps sunflower, rapeseed or plain olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsps garlic puree
  • 2 tsps ginger puree
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsps ground coriander
  • ½-1 tsp chilli powder
  • 150g/5oz canned tomato with the juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small or half a large sweet red pepper, cut into 2.5cm/1-inch cubes
  • 1 small or half a large green pepper, cut into 2.5cm/1-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp garam masala

The popular Jalfrazie was created during the British Raj to use up cold cooked meat. This recipe comes from Kolkatta (previously Calcutta) where Jalfrazie was served frequently to the members of the East India Company. Here I have used raw meat rather than cooked.

Put the chicken in a non-metallic bowl and rub in the lemon juice and half the salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat four tablespoons of the oil in a heavy based medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion. Fry, stirring regularly, for 8-9 minutes or until lightly browned, reducing the heat half way through. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder and cook for 1 minute. Add a splash of water and stir-fry for another minute or so. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the tomatoes reduce to a paste-like consistency and the oil separates from the spice paste.

Add the chicken, increase the heat slightly and cook, stirring until chicken is opaque. Add 150ml/5 fl oz warm water, bring it to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small pan or wok over a low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until browned, and add the peppers. Increase the heat to medium, stir-fry for 2 minutes and add the garam masala. Stir and fold the contents into the cooked chicken. Remove from the heat and serve with rice or Indian bread.