Jalfrezi is more similar in its cooking method to dry-fried Chinese dishes rather than the typical wet Indian curry. It's made by cooking spicy green chiles (I use Thai bird chilies, you can use serranos or jalapeños if you prefer) along with onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems and red peppers. The key to great flavor development is to cook down the aromatics in oil until almost all the moisture is driven from them and they become sticky and begin to brown. To this flavorful base, a few spices are added (hot paprika, cumin, coriander, and turmeric), along with chopped tomatoes.
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into rough 1 1/2-inch chunks
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane grater
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated on a microplane grater
- 4 to 5 small green Thai bird chilies (or other green chilies, if you prefer)
- 1 small red pepper, finely diced
- 8 stems cilantro, leaves roughly chopped, tender stems finely minced and reserved separately
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika
- 2 small plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped (a canned tomato is fine)
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, with their liquid
- 8 ounces curly spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoon juice from 2 limes
- For the Cilantro Chutney
- 2 cups picked fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small green Thai bird chili
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water by 1-inch. Season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add grated onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, cilantro stems, and red pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture has evaporated and mixture is beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add turmeric, coriander, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach, 1/2 cup of water, and cooked potatoes. Stir until spinach wilts. Add half of lime juice and season to taste with salt. reduce heat to lowest setting, cover, and keep warm while making chutney.
For the Chutney: Combine cilantro, garlic, chili, and remaining lime juice in a blender or in the cup of a hand blender and add 1/3 cup water. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides and adding water as necessary. Season to taste with salt.
Add more liquid to jalfrezi if necessary and serve with chutney and steamed basmati rice or naan.