How Hot is a Jalfrezi? | (At least 7 out of 10!)

You’re thinking of having a curry, and you’ve spotted a Jalfrezi… Great. But just how hot is a Jalfrezi? Well, the answer all depends on how well you handle spice. Depending on where you look, some say that it is a medium curry and others claim it is the same heat as a vindaloo.

No wonder it’s confusing.

In this article, we’ll look at how spicy a Jalfrezi truly is and help you decide whether to have it.

Stuck for time? Here’s the Quick Answer…

Jalfrezi is a spicy curry. It certainly isn’t mild. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the hottest, Jalfrezi certainly sits somewhere in the range of a 7/10. It is hot because the recipe includes both chilli powder and chopped fresh green chilli.

If you want to know more about it and how it tastes, read on…

What is Jalfrezi?

Jalfrezi is a curry dish that originated in Calcutta, India. It has fast become a firm favourite in the UK and at one point threatened to overtake the humble chicken tikka masala as the British national dish!

You’ll read in certain places (that shall remain nameless) that Jalfrezi translates as ‘spicy food’ However, this isn’t correct.

The truth is that while it loosely translates as ‘hot food’, this is one of those lost in translation moments. You see, Indian Jalfrezi actually is a method of cooking instead of an actual dish. The other term to how Jalfrezi could be translated is ‘hot fry’. Which is exactly how it is made.

The term was first used in England to describe curry in the mid 19th century during the colonial period when a very similar dish was served to the British.

Interestingly, curry became popular as the strong spices were designed to mask the taste of meat long past its best. The Jalfrezi is a dish that is traditionally made with leftover meat.

What Ingredients go into a Jalfrezi?

Jalfrezi as we know it today (and ignoring fallacies about translation) Contains a few ingredients, including: -

  • Marinated meat
  • A mix of spices such as cumin and coriander
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Diced pepper

And green chillies….

Yes, that’s right, you heard me… I said, green chillies. If that doesn’t give a short answer to how hot is a jalfrezi, then nothing will!

What Does Jalfrezi Taste Like?

Take a look at the list of ingredients above. This gives a strong hint as to the flavour profile of a jalfrezi.

This isn’t quite like a regular curry, like, say madras, or korma. The sauce in a jalfrezi isn’t smooth. It really is like a ‘stir fry’ as the literal translation of its name suggests.

The BIR jalfrezi recipe uses a tomato-based sauce alongside a curry base gravy. This gives the zhalfrezi a really strong tomato taste that could be said to be just a little tangy.

It also contains quite a large quantity of chopped peppers. These add a little bit of crunch and texture. This is combined with fried onions. The above wouldn’t give it much flavour, so added to the cooking process is a large helping of ginger and garlic paste and a few spoonfuls of simple curry powder mix.

The whole thing is topped off with a good helping of green chillies (and maybe a little chilli powder).

How Hot is a Jalfrezi?

Jalfrezi uses fresh green chilli as one of the major flavours in this dish, so, depending on where you order it, it is going to be hot.

The recipe also includes curry powder. This is a blend of different spices, and this too may very well contain chilli powder.

If that wasn’t quite enough chilli, most traditional Indian takeaway recipes call for a spoonful of additional chilli powder…

If you aren’t a fan of any chilli whatsoever, then it will not be the dish for you. It isn’t quite as fiery as madras or vindaloo, but nor is it as mild as some classic, more gentle curries, like the korma.

If you’ve made Jalfrezi and found it too spicy, try not to worry too much. You can still make it. I’ve got a really handy guide here on how to cool down a hot curry!

What is the Mildest Curry?

Ok, so you’ve decided that a Jalfrezi might not be for you because it is too spicy and you want something mild?

It’s alright, I get it.

There are a few mild curries to choose from. Here’s a quick list of the mildest curries that you can choose: -

Most of these dishes contain an element of cream, which has been proven to cool curry down! None contain chilli either, so they’ll all be nice and mild!

What Curry is Similar to Jalfrezi?

That’s a tricky one. As we said, Jalfrezi is actually a cooking style. That said, looking at the elements above, you can get a similar taste and texture from one or two curries.

A dopiaza is made with piles of fresh and fried onions. It also contains elements of garlic, ginger and tomato. The spices used are also pretty similar, including cumin, coriander and curry powder.

A Bhuna is another viable option. Like the Jalfrezi, it is made with peppers, onions and tomatoes.

Final Thoughts…

How hot is a Jalfrezi? Well, the jury is out and depending on where you search, some will say it is hotter than a madras, and some say it sits just beneath it on a curry heat scale. What I say is this… Either way, that’s pretty spicy. The inclusion of fresh and powdered chilli makes it one not for the faint-hearted.

Depending on where you eat it, you’ll find mixed results. Takeaways all seem to have their own idea about how hot a Jalfrezi should be. If you are making it yourself, you are firmly in control of how spicy it is. Just skip the chilli for a milder dish!

Enjoy Making Curry Yourself?

Hey folks, thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned something new allowing you to make your curry extra special. Here are a few things that can really elevate your curry game to the next level. 

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I receive a small commission, but this won't cost you any extra. In all honesty, I use very similar items myself, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

A Complete Curry Kit: - Literally, everything you'll need to make curry all in one place. Cookware, storage, utensils, even the spices! This is my dedicated guide to getting you up and running all for the price of few takeaways.

Curry pans: - You need one, and one only. A frying pan exactly like this is really easy to use, and is exactly the type that authentic Indian chefs use to make the type of curry that you'll have in your local takeaway. You can see my full reviews of several pans right here...

Spice Storage: - Being organised is half the battle in making great curry. Spices can be notoriously hard to keep tidy. That's why I tend to use a spice rack like this. You can arrange your spices by size, heat, or any way you choose. I've got a detailed review of several Indian spice racks in this guide.

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