Tyger! Tyger! eating right: Instant Pot Chicken Jalfrezi

With all due respect to His Majesty the Lion King, there is a gorgeous majestic cat who is bigger, stronger, more ferocious, and by far more famous. He is the one, whose might and glory was proclaimed by two great authors , one after the other.

I confess, I am entranced by William Blake’s poetry, literally riveted to every word, whenever I open a book (I am lucky to own an edition with his engravings).  So was Rudyard Kipling, who based his tiger Shere Khan character in The Jungle Book on Blake’s Tyger. The name itself is telling: in several languages Shere means tiger, and khan is a king. Kipling’s great cat is a royal Bengal tiger, an official symbol of People’s Republic of Bangladesh; however, the original Shere Khan is not a very savory character. He is a vicious enemy of the feral boy Mowgli; he is a man hunter, who relentlessly pursues “the human cub,” brought up by a wolf pack throughout Kipling’s stories and the ensuing Disney films.

The royal tiger’s negative image gets a makeover in the 1994 film, where Shere Khan is protecting the jungle and its inhabitants  from human hunters who murder animals for sheer pleasure of killing. The fierce king protects his subjects, in the process dispatching one of the human culprits guilty of animal cruelty. But enough of the gore! Let’s watch an endearing episode of an older Disney cartoon where Mowgli’s friend Baloo the bear teaches the boy how to provide himself with bare necessities.

According to several (unverified) legends, it was a bare necessity that inspired Lord Marcus Sandys, the Governor of Bengal under the British Raj (Crown rule of India), to invent the dish, now considered the most favorite on the menus of Indian restaurants – Chicken Jalfrezi. “The same guy is also credited with inventing Worcestershire Sauce. Some minor difficulties with this story are that there was never any Governor of Bengal called Sandys and that the gentleman in question never, as far as can be ascertained, went to India – though he did exist,” claims http://www.my-indian-food.com.

funny-turkey-cartoon I can see some more problems with this story. First of all, the original Chicken Jalfrezi was a turkey (https://www.urbanrajah.com). And do you really think a governor would have nothing better to do than to putter in the kitchen? Didn’t he have a staff of cooks who took care of him and his guests? The British “loved their roast dinners and boiled vegetables. The well to do amongst them were also known to have thrown huge parties where they ate and drank loads and almost always had a lot of food left over. Wasting this food was not an option” (ibid.) They made their cooks roast “giant turkeys, beef, and venison over large fires in terribly hot and uncomfortable conditions,” and they “refused to throw away good food,” so they instructed the native servants “to cook and serve the left-overs during the week.”  The cooks “added lots of spice and stir fried the cold cuts of left-over meat in curry pans over much smaller fires and very quickly,” and thus, turkey jalfrezi was born out of bare necessity to use up left-overs. Jal means spicy, and frezi means stir-fried. (ibid.)

Instant-Pot-Chicken-Cacciatore6

Inspired by the great blogger and fantastic photographer Derrick Knight of https://derrickjknight.com extolling scrumptious Chicken Jalfrezi made by his wife Jackie (AKA the Culinary Queen), I took upon myself a challenge to re-create it by using Instant Pot. Consequently, the “frezi” part was changed from stir-frying to sauteeing.

 

 

Chick Jal 1

One of the sources I have studied recommended dicing chicken or turkey. I opted for more texture by cutting boneless chicken breast into small bite size cubes. In a way, you can call it left-overs, as it was left over from dismembering a whole chicken and saving bones for broth.

Chick Jal 2

Chicken bites were then mixed with spices (I used cumin, coriander, garam masala, and grated white turmeric, but feel free to use your favorite spices), and left it to rest, securely covered to avoid petty theft executed by little Pyshka. Pyshka is the baby of the Cat Gang, and she is almost a vegetarian, that is, she is not interested in fresh meat and fish, but eagerly snatches lettuce, spinach, and fresh herbs right out of my hands. There is a tacit agreement, however, between her and the Main Chief Cat Barmalei who doesn’t deign to steal chicken himself. If Pyshka manages to pilfer some for him, he lets her sit on his “throne” (top of scratching cave) for a while.

Chick Jal 3

Turning my attention to vegetables, I chopped onion, garlic, and green chili pepper (actually, I cheated – used Cubanelle, which is not as spicy as chili), added some more of the same spices, and sautéed in Instant Pot for just a minute or so, until nicely browned and softened. I used sesame oil, just because I thought the chicken would enjoy it, but your chicken might have a different preference. Mine was happy with my choice.

Chick Jal 4

This might seem a modernist painting or a photo that didn’t happen, but that’s how it looked when I added water to the veggies, while keeping the same sauté setting, stirred it, and left it simmering on the same setting, but dialing down to low for about  20 minutes, until it thickened.

Chick Jal 5

Meanwhile, I used an immersion blender on those juicy plum tomatoes to pulverize them into a thick, but homogenous mass. By now I had three processes going: chicken pieces marinating, veggies simmering, and smooth tomato mass just waiting to be introduced to the other two.

Chick Jal 6

But not so fast! Some more vegetables needed to be cut up, such as more onion and more peppers. accompanied by a sizable bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro). Those of you, Beautiful People, who like to take the “jal” part of Jalfrezi literally, please feel free to add as many green and red chili peppers, as your stomachs can handle. For us, one moderately hot pepper was more than enough, so at this point I used red bell pepper.

Chick Jal 7

Finally, marinated chicken bites got their chance, as I removed my “modernist painting” from the Instant Pot, switching it to high sauté setting, and replaced it with chicken and veggies, to mix and mingle for a few minutes, until the two parts of deliciously pungent sauce were whizzed together by an immersion blender.

Chick Jal 8

“I love it when a plan comes together,” declared Mr T, and I concurred by pouring the sauce over chicken and veggies, mixing everything, and setting Instant Pot to Manual Pressure Cook for 30 minutes on High.Chick Jal FinIdeally, Chicken Jalfrezi  should be served over jasmine rice or pasta, but for health reasons we prefer brown rice mixed with wild rice. Pickled carrot and kale sticks (see here) provide a nice crunchy accent on the side, and Mendel Mendoza Malbec 2016 perfectly complements its pungent flavor. It’s up to you now, Derrick and Mrs Knight, to pronounce judgement on my intrepid culinary experiment, but I have thought it was delectable and my husband was pleased.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 chicken breasts, diced or cubed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ large onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 red chilies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish
    SAUCE
    ½ large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped
  • 1,5 cup diced tomatoes (3 – 4 plum tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric (ground or fresh grated)

PROCEDURE

1. Coat diced or cubed chicken breasts in 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon garam masala, and 1 teaspoon turmeric, marinate in fridge for 1 hour or more.
2. Make sauce on Sauté setting Medium. With lid off, cook ½ roughly chopped large onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 finely chopped green chili until browned, about 1 minute in a splash of oil (sesame preferred).
3. Add 1 cup water to the onion mixture, change setting to Low, simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Pulse tomatoes in food processor or blender for smooth consistency.
5. Add onion mixture to tomato sauce in food processor or blender, pulse together, return to Instant Pot, simmer for 20 minutes. Remove.
6. Sauté marinated chicken in oil for 5 minutes on High. Add remaining ½ sliced onion and 1 chopped red pepper. Mix together.
7. Add sauce, pressure cook on Manual for 30 minutes.
8. Before serving, stir in 1 teaspoon garam masala and handful of chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!

 

55 Comments Add yours

    1. Thank you so much, dear Susie!

      Like

  1. randyjw says:

    Jungle Book (original) is one of my favorite Disney animateds. William Blake is pretty good, too. Dish looks delicious. Do you usually double-up your Friday dishes for Shabbat? Shabbat shalom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one of my favorites as well, but the Russian cartoon was also fantastic.
      In my family, we have an old shtetldike tradition of having pareve meal on Friday night, but there must be 3 fish dishes, for the three Avot swimming in the waters of Torah. One of them is usually a main dish, and the other two are appetizers. Incidentally, that’s the idea behind inventing gefilte fish that combines three different kinds of fish. So I end up having gefilte fish, some kind of herring or another “fishy” appetizer, and a fish main dish. I also have an array of salads on Friday night. On Shabbat we always have a full Kiddush in shul, with tons of salads and a cholent, but we don’t eat cholent there as it isn’t all that healthy. We have salads there and come home for one of my chicken or turkey lunches. Shabbat Shalom, dear Rachel!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. randyjw says:

        Wow. Wow. Wow.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Shavuah Tov, dear Rachel! How are you holding up in this temperature?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. randyjw says:

      Honestly, dear Dolly, it has been quite difficult. I “soldier” on, as I can. It’s a vicious cycle, as the nutrients and strength I need from a balanced meal I can’t seem to acquire via this newest situation, although I do seem, and feel, more safe. My IBS has been irrascible, lately, and a new matter in developments elsewhere, concerning and pressing, has me worried and tied up in knots. I’ve been crying for the past couple of days. I’m bitten alive by bugs and schvitz non-stop in my sleeping bag, trying to keep them out. I’ve taken a few free crafts classes, which has been good to distract my mind (the photo from “Remade” is a recent painting project; the photo is better than the painting – – I’ll try to photograph the others, when they’re ready): so, that’s been good. My phone batt doesn’t seem to charge up well lately (I feel like I might be being hacked, possibly), so I spend all day trying to charge it, and it’s used up in no time. I dragged myself to a soup kitchen recently, really hoping for some meat: it was pasta, bread, boiled potatoes w/rosemary, and a tiny bit of lettuce. At least it was warm. And then, before that, when I went to the soup kitchen, both times it was sausages. I’m kindof on autopilot, plodding through, since lack of sleep and most-recent worries leave me a blubbering fool.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Rachel, all this is so terrible! I wish I could do something for you! Is there anything that could be done to at least alleviate your situation? E-mail me, if you don’t want to say it publicly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lghiggins says:

    This looks absolutely delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Disney version of the story was such fun.

    It doesn’t matter so much how a meal got started as that it is good and thank heaven it did get started, or we would have missed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right, dear Mimi! Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

      1. randyjw says:

        I always had my license. I just didn’t want it to expire. It doesn’t change my situation. I’m glad they covered it, but really sad they didn’t cover the additional motorcycle endorsement I had. So, guess I won’t be joining you in that, too soon! 🏍️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I didn’t know you were a motorcycle girl, too, Rachel! I guess we have even more in common than I’ve thought.
        Shabbat Shalom!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. spearfruit says:

    Fun story and great looking meal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Gary!

      Like

  5. spearfruit says:

    Great looking event !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend! See what you have missed by not letting me cook for you?

      Like

  6. Narine says:

    Маугли – мой любимый мультик 🙂 Приятного аппетита! Жаль я не ем мясо и не могу приготовить эту вкусняшку..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Спасибо, милая Наринэ! То же самое можно приготовить из тофу – ведь главное – это соус.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Narine says:

        Спасибо за подсказку! Обязательно попробую!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Не стоит благодарности – с радостью!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. randyjw says:

        Yup, it’s horrible, and no, I don’t see anything I can do; just get a job. But, thanks for the commisery w/the misery — that’s a big help.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I seem to remember that you got your driver license renewed – am I right? Could you possibly get a job now?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this glorious post, Dolly, and the praise you give us. Actually, Jackie’s jalfrezi began life as my version developed from Mridula Baljekar’s Real Balti Cookbook, as featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2012/10/31/curry-a-biography/ The Culinary Queen has, of course, taken it further.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Derrick, and for the link. I left a comment there.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. purpleslob says:

    What lovely stories you weave in with your food!! So entertaining!! And now I’m hungry too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear purple person! Go eat, but eat right!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for another culinary adventure. I say that as someone who has trouble boiling eggs (LOL).

    I read Kipling and enjoyed Disney’s “The Jungle Book” as a girl. Blake’s poem is given a darker meaning in the film “Awakenings” with Robin Williams. There it captures the tragedy of patients “trapped” w/i their catatonic bodies. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Anna!
      Yes, that was an excellent film, very well done, and Robin Williams, of course, was superb.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great dish! Love chicken! I dont know why, but your “Turkey revolt” image brought POTUS in my mind. Lol Thank you, and best wishes! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Michael. All the best to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I would like to try that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck, darling, and please let me know how it comes out!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. A perfect way to enjoy chicken. Lovely meal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Rozina; I am so glad you like it!

      Like

      1. You’re welcome:) your recipe is really good 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. chattykerry says:

    Chicken Jalfrezi was always one of my favorite Indian meals. Loved that it was fresh and spicy. Yours looks delicious! Teddy and I both love tigers and have supported a rare tiger in Cambodia for years. He was found after his mother was killed by poachers. The charity paid a local village to look after him and he is now in his late teens. The village and the keepers love him and he has his own reserve and pond.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a wonderful story! I’d love to see a photo of your tiger. Does he have a name?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. chattykerry says:

        His name is Jasper and I will have to hunt out a photo of him. The charity send an update every year. 🐅

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A majestic name for a majestic great cat. I love great cats! Actually, I love all cats, as you know.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Chocoviv says:

        You are welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. oldpoet56 says:

    Dolly, you sure do know how to make a person need to get up and go to the kitchen. I am going to reblog this one for you my friend. I hope that you are having a good Sabbath.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend. We had a lovely Shabbos, with a guest speaker from Israel who runs a pre-military academy, where boys learn Torah, in addition to physical fitness and military skills, before going to serve in the army. Absolutely unique and incredible institution!

      Like

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear friend.

      Like

  15. Balvinder says:

    This looks really good. We love chicken jalfrezi.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much, dear Bal; it’s so wonderful to see you here again!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s