J Is For… Jalfrezi, With Vegetables And Paneer

Jalfrezi is yet another dish that I had resorted to always eating at restaurants, which I never made at home just because I thought it would be too cumbersome to do so. Oh, I was so very mistaken!

Recently, I had a lot of vegetables and paneer lying unused in the house, and thought of making jalfrezi in my home kitchen, if at all the proceedure didn’t daunt me too much. I found a plethora of recipes on the Internet, most of them quite simple, though. One particular recipe intrigued me – the one from Monsoon Spice. I followed the original recipe to a large extent, making very few and minor alterations, and came up with a delicious, delicious curry that tasted heavenly with home-made parathas. It wasn’t one bit difficult to make. I am so sure there’s going to be no more jalfrezi-eating at restaurants in the times to come.

Here is how I made it…

Ingredients (makes enough for 2 people, as a single curry):

Vegetables and paneer –

100 grams of fresh paneer (I used Milky Mist)

1 medium-sized capsicum. chopped into large pieces

A handful of large cauliflower florets

A handful of fresh, green peas

1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and chopped length-wise

10-15 fresh French beans, chopped into large pieces

5-6 button mushrooms, chopped into large pieces

2 medium-sized onions, chopped length-wise

A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into large pieces

5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 medium-sized tomato, cut into large pieces and pureed

Spices –

Red chilli powder, to taste

A pinch of asafoetida

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoons kasoori methi

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons cumin-coriander (dhania-jeera) powder

Other ingredients –

2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup

Salt, to taste

Sugar, to taste (optional)

2 tablespoons of oil

A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop the paneer into large pieces and drop them into a large bowl filled with water. Keep them immersed in water till it is time to add them to the curry. This helps to keep the paneer super soft and fresh. There is no need to fry the paneer cubes.
  2. Grind the ginger and garlic together in a mixer, adding very little water. Keep aside.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil. Add the asafoetida.
  4. Now, add the chopped onions. Saute till they are cooked, but not overly so.
  5. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute for a minute or so.
  6. Now, add the beans, carrot, and cauliflower. Add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Sprinkle a little water, and cover the pan. Cook till the vegetables start turning softer, but not fully cooked, sprinkling more water and stirring intermittently.
  7. Add the capsicum, mushroom, green peas, and paneer. Also add the dhania-jeera powder and garam masala. Mix well, but gently, taking care not to break the pieces of paneer. Cook on a medium flame, uncovered, till the vegetables are cooked, but not overly so. Add a little more water if required.
  8. Add the sugar to taste, if using, along with the tomato ketchup. Add the kasoori methi. Mix well. If the curry looks too dry, you may want to add a little more water at this stage. Let everything cook together on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes.
  9. When the curry is done, add the chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice, if using. Mix well.

Serve hot with parathas or rotis.

*************************

PS:

  1. I made this dish for the Alphabet Cooking Challenge, for the letter J.
  2. Ever wondered why ‘Jalfrezi’ is called so? Here is a bit about its history.

Jalfrezi is the Indian version of Chinese stir-fry made with curry spices. During the Raj, the British created this method of reheating left-overs. You may credit the Governor General for the state of Bengal, Lord Marcus Sandys, who enjoyed spicy Indian foods. He is also credited with converting  Tamarind/Jaggery Chutney into Worcestershire Sauce. In Bengal, ‘Jhal’ means spicy hot. ‘Jhal’ became ‘Jal’ over time.

Some historians have asserted that Frezi is derived from the Urdu word ‘Parhezi’, ‘Parhezi’ refers to the discriminating of tastes.

As the time passed, Indian restaurants adapted the method to make stir-fry with marinated meats. All Jalfrezi dishes have visible: onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, and Serrano. Nowadays, the meats not be leftovers, precooked, or even marinated. You may not use any meats at all, and use different vegetables instead.

Information Courtesy: Here

3. There are many different recipes for jalfrezi, some more complicated than others. Different restaurants also do it differently. I chose this recipe because I liked the simplicity of it, as well as the sound of it. Now, I think I will stick to it, since I am pleased with the results.

4. You can make jalfrezi with different combinations of vegetables: Only vegetables, vegetables and baby corn, vegetables and paneer, only babycorn, or only paneer.

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