This vegetarian-friendly vegetable Jalfrezi stir fry recipe is packed with veggies and spices! Treat yourself and your family to a hearty Indian weeknight meal that’s sure to please.
I love trying my hand at Asian-inspired cuisine! Recipes that come out of China, Japan, Mongolia, and India hold a special place in my heart. They usually include tons of veggies, protein, and (of course) delicious spices and aromas that make my heart sing. I’m not exaggerating – I seriously love these types of dishes!
Today I want to introduce you to this vegetable Jalfrezi recipe. Jalfrezi, sometimes called jhal frezi or jaffrezi, is a traditional Bengali dish that’s popular across India. In English, Jalfrezi means “hot fry.” It makes sense, seeing as though the dish is prepared by frying in a wok or frying pan. The dish usually includes meat or fish and vegetables that have been stir-fried with a spicy sauce made from green chilis.
My recipe is vegetarian and can be made vegan-friendly when you opt for vegetable oil instead of ghee. It takes less than 30-minutes to prepare from start to finish. It’s a great option for a weeknight dinner and will set you up for some seriously delicious leftovers for lunch – if you don’t scarf it all down in one sitting!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Cauliflower - The cauliflower florets serve as the base for my vegetable stir fry.
- Ghee or Oil - You’ll need to use ghee or oil to fry up this dish. If you’re vegan, opt for vegetable oil. You can use your preference – I personally prefer using canola.
- Red Onion & Garlic - To add even more flavor to your vegetable stir fry!
- Serrano Green Chili - I already mentioned that the base of the Jalfrezi sauce is made from green chilis. You’ll need one that’s been seeded and diced for this recipe.
- Ginger - You can remove the skin using a spoon. Then, cut it into strips and dice.
- Tomato Sauce or Passata - This is also used to make your dish saucy. If using passata (tomato puree), add in a teaspoon of sugar to balance out the acidity.
- Green & Red Bell Peppers - To pack your vegetable Jalfrezi with even more fresh goodness!
- Plum Roma Tomatoes - You thought the added vegetables were done?! Nope! The tomatoes complement the rest of the ingredients nicely and add more flavor to the sauce.
- Baby Corn - Last but not least on the veggie front is baby corn. Again, it adds a bit more sweetness to an otherwise spicy dish.
- Paneer - For just a touch of cheesiness.
- Spices - Like most Indian-inspired dishes, this vegetable stir fry calls for many herbs and spices:
- Cumin Seeds
- Kosher Salt
- Red Chili Powder
- Garam Masala - Make it yourself using my recipe!
- Ground Nutmeg
- Ground Cardamom
- Dried Fenugreek Leaves - Can be replaced with mustard greens if you can’t find it at the supermarket.
HOW TO MAKE VEGETABLE JALFREZI STIR FRY
- Prep. Cut the cauliflower into florets and blanch until fork tender. Alternatively, you can microwave the florets for 2 minutes. Set them aside for later.
- Sauté. Heat the ghee or oil in a frying pan or a wok. Place the cumin seeds in the pan and when they start to sizzle, add in the onion and diced chili. Toasting the cumin will bring out its flavor even more! Sauté, then add in your ginger and garlic.
- Sauté Some More. Add the tomato sauce, salt, and the rest of the spices (except the fenugreek leaves) to the pan and sauté. Make sure to stir constantly. Then, add in the chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, and corn and continue to sauté and stir.
- Finishing Touches. Add your cauliflower florets, paneer, and fenugreek leaves to the mix, plus a tablespoon of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes before serving your vegetable stir fry immediately.
What Does a Jalfrezi Taste Like?
With all this talk about vegetable Jalfrezi, you may be wondering what this dish actually tastes like! Thanks to the tomato sauce and veggies, it has a distinct garden fresh flavor.
The herbs and seasonings add a lot to the dish, and there are hints of curry (thanks to the Garam Masala — there’s no actual curry in it) and spice. It is a bit on the spicy side, just so that you’re aware!
What’s the Difference Between Madras and Jalfrezi?
Not all Indian dishes are created equal, although Jalfrezi is often compared to another specialty called Madras. Typically, vegetable Jalfrezi is less spicy than Madras and features more fresh vegetables. Madras is also a stir-fried dish, is quite hot, and boasts stronger cumin, fenugreek, and cilantro flavor.
What is Jalfrezi Made Of?
As mentioned, Jalfrezi is typically made with meat or fish and fresh vegetables. It’s sometimes confused with curry, but it is less like a soup. Because it’s stir-fried instead of braised, it’s considered drier than traditional Indian curry dishes. You’ll often find recipes for chicken Jalfrezi. My vegetable stir fry version is vegetarian-friendly and can even be made vegan if you use vegetable oil instead of ghee.
Vegetable Jalfrezi Stir Fry
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium red onion sliced
- 1 serrano green chili seeded and diced
- 1 inch piece ginger (See Note 1)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup tomato sauce or passata/tomato puree (See Note 2)
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 green bell pepper cubed
- 1 red bell pepper cubed
- 2 plum roma tomato quartered
- 15 oz baby corn drained
- 7 ounces paneer cubed
- 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
- Start by blanching the cauliflower until fork tender or microwave, covered, for 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat ghee/oil in a wok or frying pan. Add cumin seeds, when they start to sizzle and sputter, 30 seconds, add the red onion and diced chili. Fry for 2 minutes, then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for another minute, stirring often.
- Add tomato sauce, salt, chili powder, garam masala, turmeric, nutmeg and cardamom to the wok. Saute for a minute, stirring all the time.
- Add the bell peppers, tomato and corn to the wok and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower, paneer cheese and fenugreek leaves. Add a tablespoon of water, stir and cover. Cook on low for a 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Remove skin using a spoon and cut into julienne strips then dice.
- If using passata (tomato puree), add 1 teaspoon sugar.
- Serves 4 people as a main or 6 with side dish.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.