This Vegan Jalfrezi Curry is easily prepared by stir-frying green and red bell peppers, onions, potatoes, and vegan chicken pieces along with lots of tasty spices, and finished off with fresh spinach. Although, the veggies can be substituted for whatever you have to hand, and instead of vegan chicken pieces add extra veggies such as broccoli, potatoes, or juicy mushrooms. It truly is a deliciously easy vegan take-out-at-home meal perfect for special occasions or well deserved weekend treats.
Vegan Jalfrezi curry is the perfect alternative to a take-away as its budget-friendly and can be tailored to what you have in your pantry. Enjoy with soft flatbreads or naan breads, crisp poppadum's, toasted peanuts or cashews, fresh coriander, rice or noodles, and any of your favourite curry sides, chutneys and pickles.
History of jalfrezi curry
Jalfrezi is a type of Indian curry that originated during the British Raj in India, around the late 19th to early 20th century. The term "jalfrezi" comes from two Bengali words: "jhal" meaning spicy or fiery, and "frezi" meaning stir-fry.
Jalfrezi was originally developed as a method to use up leftovers by frying them in spices and chili. In the colonial period, Indian cooks would stir-fry leftover roast or cold meat with onions, bell peppers, chilies, and plenty of spices to give the dish a fresh and spicy kick. Over time, the dish has evolved and is now typically made with meat, fish, or vegetables instead of leftovers.
Jalfrezi recipes utilises the technique of stir-frying, which is a originally a Chinese cooking method, and simmering which gives it delicious fresh flavours. It can be hotter and spicier than other Indian curries, however, the level of spiciness can be adjusted according to personal taste.
Also, while Jalfrezi is very popular in Indian restaurants in the UK and other parts of the world, it may be less common in India as its an Anglo-Indian dish. Other Anglo-Indian dishes that were created during the British Raj include: Mulligatawny Soup and Kedgeree.
Tikka Masala is another Anglo-Indian dish, but it was invented later in Scotland during the 1970s by a Bangladeshi chef who is claimed to have adjusted one of his recipes to suit the local tastes.
Whoever suggested that vegan food is bland or boring, most likely never enjoyed a delicious Indian-inspired vegan curry! Indian cuisine is amazing in its ability to deliver rich, fresh flavors and varied textures that can make your mouth water at the mere thought of it!
How to prepare
To save time and perhaps expense, if you don't already have the spices to hand, simply replace the individual spices with a jalfrezi spice paste, mix, or powder, or even at a pinch use an ordinary curry powder. Also, if mango chutney is not liked we have prepared this curry with onion chutney and even an onion pickle and its still been very tasty!
We used a reduced package of This Isn't Chicken Pieces but this can be replaced with say broccoli, juicy mushrooms, extra potatoes, or your choice of vegan chicken pieces - Quorn vegan chicken pieces would be a nice substitution.
First, gather all your ingredients together. Par boil the potatoes for 5 minutes, drain, and reserve the cooking liquid if wished for a different recipe such as soup, stew, or a sauce.
Next, melt the coconut oil in a non-stick deep fry pan, skillet, or wok [we used a wok]. Add the onion and bell pepper slices and cook for 5 minutes.
Now, add the ginger powder, turmeric powder, garlic powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, along with the lemon zest. [Or if using a jalfrezi paste or spice powder add it now].
Stir everything together.
Chuck in the fresh or frozen vegan chicken pieces and stir well for 1 minute, before adding the parboiled chopped potatoes and stir for another minute.
Next, stir through the in the kidney beans.
Pour in the can of chopped or diced tomatoes, canned coconut milk, the juice from half a lemon, and mango chutney. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar.
Cook for 25-35 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick and the potatoes are soft.
To finish, stir through the garam masala powder and then add the spinach which will look like a lot but it will wilt down! Just keep stirring it through the jalfrezi.
Enjoy the jalfrezi with your favourite curry sides, fresh coriander or sliced spring onions, a lemon slices to squeeze over the finished dish is an especially delicious garnish.
How to toast cashews, peanuts, or flaked almonds, for a curry garnish
Toasted cashews or peanuts are a very easy addition as they can be simply toasted in a small fry pan or skillet with no additional oil required.
Simply add the nuts to the pan and over a medium-high heat, gently shake the nuts back and forth a few times until the pan is very hot. Once very hot, the pan can be removed from the heat and continued to be gently shook back and forth. The nuts will toast further in the residual heat - the nuts do not have to be completely toasted just tinged with golden bits.
Optional: Add a few pinches of salt or extra garam masala to the nuts before they begin to toast. Also the nuts can be replaced with sunflower, sesame, or pumpkin seeds.
Jalfrezi curry is delicious served with Jeera Rice which can be made by cooking cumin seeds in some oil for a minute or two before adding the rice and cooking the rice the usual method. The aromas of the cumin seeds cooking are wonderful! We usually add at least a tablespoon of cumin seeds as we love the flavour. Or add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to the rice for a deliciously easy wholesome turmeric rice. For extra flavour cook the rice in vegetable broth or stock, or even add some canned coconut milk.
Leftover curry can be stored within the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen for 2-3 months.
To reheat the leftover curry, add it to a non-stick pan, adding more liquid if necessary such as plant-based milk, coconut milk, vegetable broth or stock, or just water, so that the curry can reheat more easily. Bring the curry to the boil, lower the heat, and simmer for a few minutes or until piping hot throughout. Stir the curry frequently as it reheats.
The vegan chicken pieces can be replaced with any type of vegan meat alternatives, rehydrated textured vegetable protein [TVP] chunks or soya curls, firm tofu, tempeh, seitan, mushrooms, chickpeas or any other bean, or a vegetable such as eggplant [aubergine], zucchini [courgette], or extra bell peppers.
If you'd like to replace any of the veggies included within our jalfrezi recipe, there are a variety of vegetables that would be particularly great substitutes. Leftover odds and ends of vegetables are perfect to use up in a jalfrezi curry.
For example -different types of onion, leek. fresh tomatoes, any variety of potatoes [including canned potatoes], sweet potatoes, peas, courgette, aubergine, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, swede [rutabaga], field beans, green beans, mangetout, sugar snap peas, vegetable marrow, squash, pumpkin, broad beans, edamame beans, etc.
If you would prefer to replace the mango chutney, here are a few alternatives that would work well: apricot jam or preserve, peach chutney, onion chutney, onion pickle, apple chutney, tamarind chutney, tomato chutney or relish.
Although do keep in mind that any substitute will slightly change the overall flavour of the curry, and that depending on the substitute [such as the substitute is more sour, tangy, sweet, or spicy, compared to mango chutney] you may need to balance the flavours with a little extra sugar, or a little vinegar such as apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, or perhaps extra heat such as a few pinches of chilli flakes, fresh chilli's, or extra chilli powder. Add less to start then adapt the quantities to taste.
Yes of course, the kidney beans can be substituted with any cooked bean you have to hand such as chickpeas [garbanzo beans], black beans, pinto beans, butter beans, cannellini beans, haricot beans [navy beans], azuki beans, etc. Or perhaps cooked green or brown lentils.
Yes, you can absolutely use a jalfrezi spice paste instead of individual spices for the vegan jalfrezi curry recipe. Pre-made spice pastes are a great way to save time and they typically include a balance of flavours that have been carefully crafted, but be sure and adjust the quantity of the paste to your personal taste.
Another consideration is that the curry paste may be concentrated, so it may be best to start with 1-2 tablespoons and then adjust as necessary, or look on your curry paste packaging for advice on quantities. Also, check the package instructions to see how to prepare the paste as it may require a few minutes cooking in oil to release the flavours.
Finally, do check the ingredients of the curry paste as some may contain non-vegan ingredients such as shrimp paste or ghee (clarified butter).
Absolutely! While potatoes are a common ingredient in many curry dishes due to their ability to absorb flavours and thicken the curry sauce, potatoes can also provide a hearty, satisfying texture to the curry. But,there are many substitutes available if you're looking to try something different or if you have dietary restrictions.
Here are a few potato substitute suggestions: sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash, summer squash, pumpkin, acorn pumpkin, vegetable marrow, courgette, aubergine, celeriac, carrots, parsnip, turnips, or swede.
Do keep in mind, that different vegetables cook at different times, and if not using potatoes the starchy potato cooking liquid will not be present, so perhaps stir through a tablespoon of cornflour [cornstarch] to the curry recipe at the same time the potatoes would have been included, just to provide extra thickness for the sauce.
Another thought, is that some vegetables taste better in a curry after they have been pre-roasted in the oven as this concentrates the vegetables tasty flavours, so if time is on your side perhaps pre-roast veggies such as cauliflower, pumpkin, courgette, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, any of the veggie subs really! The veggies don't have to be roasted until completely soft, as they will finish cooking in the curry.
Choosing the right type of potato for your curry is a consideration especially if you do not wish your potatoes to fall apart too much as they cook. Also, different potatoes have slightly different cooking times so do keep this in mind as well.
Although, in reality we just tend to just chuck in any type of potatoes that we happen to have to hand in our pantry, or whatever potatoes looked the nicest and were also the least expensive in the supermarket!
However, here are a few good potato choices: new or baby potatoes, charlotte potatoes, russet or Idaho potatoes, any waxy potatoes such as red potatoes, Yukon Gold, fingerling potatoes, or ordinary supermarket potatoes simply labelled as white potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are also a delicious potato option, and as these tend to cook much more quickly in a curry compared to ordinary potatoes if time is a factor these are a great choice.
Jalfrezi curry pairs nicely with a rice, noodles, naan bread, chapati, roti, poppadoms, homemade easy flatbreads, Chana Chaat [spicy chickpeas], cucumber raita, vegan sour creme or creme fraiche, mango chutney, mint chutney, apple chutney, mint pickle, onion pickle, fresh salad, pakoras, samosas, or even a side of chips or French fries. A scoop of this Red Lentil and Kale Dahl or this Aloo Gobi [spicy cauliflower and potato] along with the curry.
For a starter, a delicious Red Lentil Dahl Soup is a nice idea.
For an easy guide on preparing the best rice have a look at our Vegan Red Beans Stew and Rice recipe notes and FAQ's.
To finish off a tasty home-made curry a delicious dessert is a nice idea especially an Indian rice pudding which is called Kheer. Our traditional British Rice Pudding can be jazzed up with spices and flavours such as cardamon, cloves, ginger, saffron, a touch of rose water, nuts and dried fruits to create a delicious ending to an Indian inspired meal.
Or go with a tasty slice of our Traditional Fruit Cake which is perfect with a hot cup of Chai tea or a tasty wholesome Turmeric Latte.
Although, fruit cake is technically not a traditional dessert for a curry meal, our traditional British fruit loaf cake recipe is packed with warm spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and mixed spice powder which is generally a mix of spices such as -coriander, cinnamon, ginger, caraway, cloves, and nutmeg, which compliment all the spices enjoyed throughout the curry meal, so it can be a delicious untraditional dessert!
However, interestingly, there is a traditional Indian fruit cake filled with ground spices and candied fruits called an Allahabadi Christmas Cake.
There are lots of delicious garnishes that can be added to a jalfrezi curry that can add extra tasty textures and flavours, such as: fresh coriander [cilantro], lemon or lime wedges, fresh sliced chilli's, pickled red onion [see our Italian bread salad recipe for an easy and quick pickled red onion recipe].
Other garnishes include: fresh chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber, chopped radishes, sliced spring onions or scallions, toasted nuts such as cashews, peanuts, or flaked almonds, toasted seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower, a dollop of vegan yogurt, sour cream, creme fraise or even vegan mayonnaise which is especially nice with a rice accompaniment.
Jalfrezi is traditionally considered a fairly spicy curry, and is often categorized as medium-hot on many Indian restaurant menus and take-outs. The heat in a jalfrezi curry comes from the inclusion of green chillies, chilli powder, and other warm spices like cumin and coriander.
However, the beauty of cooking at home is that you can adjust the spice level to your personal and family preferences, so if you prefer a milder curry, you can reduce the number of chillies or the amount of chilli powder in the recipe. For our jalfrezi recipe we do not include fresh chilli's as my kids would protest if the curry was too hot, so we use a mild chilli powder instead.
Alternatively, if you like your curry very spicy, you can add fresh chillies or use a hotter variety of chilli powder.
Adding ingredients such as tomatoes, coconut milk, and sugar in the jalfrezi recipe helps to balance and mellow the heat of the curry creating a curry that is spicy but also balanced and packed with other flavours -such as sweet and tangy.
Although, do remember that you are the cook so you can always add more spice as you go along, but do bear in mind that it's more challenging to make a dish less spicy once it's already cooked, so at the beginning add less, taste, and then add more if liked.
Yes, you can make this recipe gluten-free. Just ensure that all your ingredients are gluten-free, especially check that the vegan chicken substitute you use is gluten-free, as some brands may contain gluten, and check any spice mixes or curry pastes that you may happen to use.
Traditional jalfrezi curry is prepared with fresh green chilli's which gives it a nice spicy kick, but our recipe uses chilli powder which provides enough spice for those who enjoy spice but prefer the curry to not be too hot! Of course, feel free to add fresh chilli's to the recipe as it cooks, or extra chilli powder, or add a few chilli slices as a tasty garnish for those family members who love extra spicy meals.
More vegan curry recipes
One of my family's favourite meals is curry so we are always adding more curry recipes to our growing collection of tasty Vegan Curry Recipes.
We particularly love this Slow Cooker Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry as its just to easy, and this flavour packed Vegan Saag Aloo, and for the best budget-friendly meal options we always have dried red lentils in the pantry as along with a few spices and some fresh or frozen kale a really simple Red Lentil and Kale Dahl can be whipped up. Along with a naan bread, or even slices of toasted bread, dahl can be a satisfying filling meal.
And one of my own personal favourites, as I can literally eat it everyday for a snack, is this Chana Chaat otherwise known as Simply Tasty Spiced Chickpeas!
We just had to add in this extra curry recipe for our favourite lunch-time meal - Spicy Chickpea Soup - as its just so tasty we had to share it with you!
please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.
Vegan Jalfrezi Curry
- Saucepan [for par-boiling potatoes, although this step is optional]
- Large non-stick skillet, deep fry pan, Wok, or similar [with a lid, or perhaps use a heat-proof plate]
- lemon zester
- 500 grams baby potatoes [cut into 1 inch bitesize pieces and parboiled for 5 minutes]
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil [or ¼ cup of vegetable broth, plus more as required, if oil-free is preferred]
- 1 medium-large red bell pepper [about 145 grams of prepared pepper] [cut into thick slices]
- 1 medium-large green bell pepper [about 145grams of prepared pepper] [cut into thick slices]
- 1 medium-large onion [cut into thick slices][about 110grams of prepared onion]
- 250 grams vegan chicken pieces [can replace with mushrooms or extra veggies]
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder [or 4-6 cloves of diced fresh garlic]
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder [or 1 inch piece of grated fresh ginger]
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder [use fresh green chilli if preferred, or more chilli powder]
- 2 tablespoon mango chutney [or an onion chutney]
- 1 can kidney beans 400grams [14oz] can [rinsed and drained] or 240grams of cooked beans
- 1 can coconut milk 400g [14oz] can
- 1 can chopped tomatoes 400g [14oz] can
- 1 tablespoon sugar [your choice of sugar, syrup or sweetener, we used granulated]
- 1 small lemon [weight of lemon about 95grams/3oz], [for the zest and juice]
Stir through at the end:
- 2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 100 grams baby spinach [if your spinach leaves are large then shred them up a little]
Parboil the potatoes: [optional but recommended]
- Parboil the chopped potatoes for 5 minutes in boiling water, then drain and set aside until required. The cooking liquid can be retained and stored within the refrigerator - use it for other recipes such as soups, stews, sauces, etc.[Parboiling the potatoes means that the curry will take less time to cook, although if preferred this step can be omitted.]500 grams baby potatoes
Prepare the curry:
- Melt the coconut oil in a non-stick pan. [Or if using vegetable broth instead bring about ¼ cup to a gentle boil, add a little more broth as and when needed.]1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Add the bell peppers and onions, and over a medium heat, cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.1 medium-large red bell pepper, 1 medium-large green bell pepper, 1 medium-large onion
- Zest the lemon peel and add it to the pan, along with the garlic powder, ginger powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and chilli powder, stir well.[The spices can be replaced with a jalfrezi spice mix or paste, if a paste is used allow it a few minutes of cooking in the pan to release the flavours, a little extra oil may be required][Instead of dried ginger or garlic - fresh or jarred garlic and ginger can be used instead]2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, 2 teaspoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon ginger powder, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1 small lemon
- Next, add the vegan chicken pieces and give everything a good stir.250 grams vegan chicken pieces
- Pop in the parboiled potatoes and and stir for about a minute.
- Next, add the kidney beans, along with the mango chutney, canned tomatoes, and coconut milk.2 tablespoon mango chutney, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can coconut milk, 1 can chopped tomatoes
- Add a few pinches of salt, some black pepper, and the sugar. Half the lemon and squeeze out the juice from one half [keep the second half for seasoning the cooked dish, if liked].Stir well and bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 25 minutes.1 tablespoon sugar
- Check that the potatoes are soft, and if not pop a lid over the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. [Cooking the potatoes in a tomato-based sauce does mean that they will take a little while longer to soften up, and so exact times will depend on the potatoes that you choose, but initially parboiling the potatoes helps reduce the overall cooking time.]
- Once the potatoes are softened, remove the pan from the heat and stir through the garam masala powder. Taste the curry and if required add salt and pepper to taste.2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- Next, pop in the spinach and stir the leaves through the curry until they are nicely wilted and distributed.100 grams baby spinach
- Optional: Serve, garnished with fresh coriander [cilantro] or sliced spring onions [green onions], toasted peanuts or cashews, extra mango chutney, and perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice over each serving if liked. A dollop of vegan yogurt, mayonnaise, or creme fraiche is a nice addition.Naan breads, poppadoms, rice or noodles are all tasty accompaniments.
- Nutritional data is not intended to be an exact calculation as ingredients can vary.
- The individual spices - coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chilli, can be replaced with 2-3 tablespoons of jalfrezi curry paste, 1-2 tablespoons of jalfrezi curry powder, or at a pinch 1-2 tablespoons of ordinary curry powder and a teaspoon of chilli powder.
- Instead of vegan chicken pieces or chunks, replace with extra potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, tofu, seitan, tempeh, rehydrated TVP or soy curls, or your choice of veggies.
- We used This Isn't Chicken Pieces which are plant-based and vegan.
- Instead of garlic powder and ginger powder, replace with fresh garlic [about 4-6 cloves, sliced or diced] and fresh ginger [about 1 inch piece, grated], we had run out of fresh garlic and ginger! Or go with jarred garlic and ginger.
- Mango chutney can be replaced with an onion chutney or an onion pickle.
- Store leftovers for up to 3 days within the refrigerator.
- Or freeze for 2-3 months.
- To reheat the leftover curry, add it to a non-stick pan, adding more liquid if necessary such as plant-based milk, coconut milk, vegetable broth or stock, or just water, so that the curry can reheat more easily. Bring the curry to the boil, lower the heat, and simmer for a few minutes or until piping hot throughout. Stir the curry frequently as it reheats.
- For a simple guide on toasting nuts and seeds see the how to prepare vegan jalfrezi curry section above.
- For an extra spicy curry add fresh green chilli's to the curry at the same time the bell peppers and onions are added. Or add extra chilli powder, we used a mild chilli powder but you can use a medium or even a hot version! Alternatively, to please all family members add the fresh chilli slices as a garnish just for those who prefer extra spice.
Prepared our Vegan Jalfrezi Curry? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe. Do click the star ratings and drop us a comment below as we love hearing from you. Also if you have any further questions or queries regarding the recipe do get in touch!
Thanks so much, Jacq x