Paneer Jalfrezi is a delicious vegetarian and gluten-free recipe from the eastern region of India. It is made by cooking vegetables and paneer with a special blend of Indian spices. This easy Indian recipe gets ready in just 30 minutes.
Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) is one of the most popular vegetarian ingredients in India. It is now gaining popularity in the Western world too- especially with more and more people getting inclined towards a meat-free diet.
Today I am sharing a very tasty and easy-to-make paneer recipe called Paneer Jalfrezi. It's made by cooking paneer with crunchy vegetables and flavoring them with a flavorful blend of Indian spices.
If you like Indian food and are looking for easy vegetarian recipes to try at home then this dish is a must-try.
History and origin of Jalfrezi
Paneer Jalfrezi is not the only Jalfrezi dish but there are many other similar dishes like Chicken Jalfrezi, Vegetable Jalfrezi, Mushroom Jalfrezi, etc.
In Bengali language Jhal means hot or spicy and that's where this dish got its name from.
It's said that the first Jalfrezi dish was created with Chicken by the Bengali chefs of the British people in India, during the colonial period.
These chefs combined the techniques of Indian and Chinese cuisines to create this delicious dish. Though, the ingredients and flavors Indian, stir-frying the vegetables and leaving them crunchy is the Chinese way.
Later, various vegetarian versions of it were re-created in India. Paneer jalfrezi is one of them.
What goes in Paneer Jalfrezi?
To make this dish at home you will need the ingredients shown below:
Ingredient notes and substitute suggestions
- Paneer: Paneer is Indian cottage cheese. You can easily find it in the dairy section of Indian grocery stores. If you can't find fresh paneer, frozen can be used too. If using frozen paneer, thaw it before adding to the dish.
- Nigella seeds: It's also known as kalonji in Hindi. I have seen some people calling it black cumin. Even some brands sell it by the name black cumin but, black cumin and nigella seeds are completely different spices. They not only taste different but also look completely different. Nigella seed is an important ingredient in this dish and you can not create the same flavor with any other spice not even with black sesame seeds which look similar but taste different. However, if you could not find nigella seeds, skip it instead of using a different spice and completely changing the flavor.
- Kasoori methi: Ever wondered what gives a nice unique smoky flavor (other than tandoor) to a lot of Indian dishes? It's this ingredient called kasoori methi which is dried fenugreek leaves. There is no substitute for this ingredient, not even the fresh fenugreek leaves. Unfortunately, no other ingredient can create the same flavor. If you like Indian food and plan to make it at home, keep a few basic spices, including kasoori methi in your pantry.
How to make (step-by-step instructions)?
Step 1: Heat oil in a cooking pot. Add cumin seeds and nigella seeds. Saute for a few seconds or until the seeds start spluttering.
Step 2: Add sliced onion and cook until the onion starts turning brown.
Step 3: Add minced garlic and saute for about a minute or until its raw smell goes away.
Step 4: Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, and coriander powder.
Step 5: Saute for a few seconds.
Step 6: Add chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft and are nicely cooked.
Step 7: Add tomato paste, mix, and cook for a minute.
Step 8: Add chopped carrot and beans.
Step 9: Cook uncovered for 5-6 minutes. Keep on stirring in between. The vegetables should be cooked but remain crunchy.
Step 10: Add chopped bell peppers.
Step 11: Cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes.
Step 12: Add diced and deseeded tomatoes.
Step 13: Add diced paneer, crushed kasoori methi, and thinly sliced ginger.
Step 14: Mix everything.
Step 15: Cook covered for another 2 minutes.
Step 16: Add fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Mix.
Your delicious homemade paneer Jalfrezi is ready to be served!
Serve this vegetable paneer jalfrezi hot with any Indian bread like roti, paratha, or naan.
You can also enjoy it with some plain basmati rice, jeera rice, or any other rice dish of choice.
The leftover can be stuffed inside wraps or grilled sandwiches.
Recipe tips & tricks
- Generally, in paneer jalfrezi, paneer and vegetables are cut into long rectangular pieces. However, you can make smaller pieces if you want.
- If possible, use fresh paneer. It will be softer and creamier.
- Don't overcook the vegetables, they should remain slightly crunchy.
- Don't overcook paneer otherwise, it will turn rubbery and chewy.
- For more flavor, you may add around ¼ teaspoon of garam masala to the dish once it's cooked.
- Vegans may either skip paneer or replace it with mushrooms, tofu, baby corn, or potatoes.
- This dish tastes even better the next day when Paneer soaks all the flavors.
How to store?
To store the leftover dish, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for 2-3 days. It tastes even better the next day.
Can you freeze this dish?
Large pieces of paneer won't freeze well and may become spongy and break easily when re-heated.
So, if you are planning to freeze this dish either freeze it without the paneer and add paneer only while reheating or, use smaller bite-size pieces of paneer in the dish.
Once thawed, don't refreeze.
How to reheat?
To reheat, either microwave for about a minute, take out, stir, and microwave again until reheated evenly.
Or, to reheat on the stovetop, transfer to a pan, add a few tablespoons of hot water, cover the pot and reheat for around 5 minutes or until nicely reheated.
If you are reheating frozen jalfrezi, there is no need to thaw it first.
Frequently asked questions
No, this dish is moderately spiced.
You can add vegetables that stay crunchy even after getting cooked like broccoli and cauliflower.
More easy paneer recipes
Paneer is the favorite ingredient of many Indians- not only vegetarians but non-vegetarians too. If you also love paneer and want to try more easy paneer recipes at home then don't miss to check the following links:
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- 1 Cooking pot
- 200 grams paneer cut into long rectangular pieces
- 1.5 cups diced bell pepper cut into long rectangular pieces
- 1 cup diced carrot cut into long rectangular pieces
- ½ cup French beans cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium-sized onion thinly sliced
- 1 medium-sized tomato finely chopped
- 1 medium-sized tomato deseed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1-inch piece of ginger thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice adjust to taste
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste optional
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
- ½ tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt as per taste
- 1 tablespoon mustard oil/ any other cooking oil of choice
- Heat oil in a cooking pot. Add cumin seeds and nigella seeds.
- Once the seeds start spluttering, add sliced onion and cook until the onion starts turning brown.
- Add minced garlic and saute for about a minute or until the raw smell of garlic goes away.
- Next, add turmeric powder, red chili powder, and coriander powder. Saute for a few seconds.
- Add finely chopped tomatoes and salt. Mix and cook until the tomatoes turn soft.
- When the tomatoes are nicely cooked add tomato paste and cook for about a minute.
- Add beans and carrot. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy. If required, you may add around 3-4 tablespoons of water. It will also fasten the cooking process.
- Next, add bell pepper and saute for another 4-5 minutes.
- Finally, add diced tomato, paneer, ginger slices, and crushed kasoori methi. Mix everything and cover the pan. Cook covered for about 2 minutes and then switch off the stove.
- Add lime juice and roughly chopped cilantro. Mix.
- Serve hot with roti/ naan or paratha.
- Generally, in paneer jalfrezi, paneer and vegetables are cut into long pieces. You can choose whichever shape you prefer just cut them into same size pieces.
- If possible, use fresh paneer instead of the frozen one. Fresh paneer will be softer and creamier.
- Don’t overcook the vegetables, they should be slightly crunchy.
- Vegans may either skip paneer or replace it with mushrooms or tofu.
- This dish tastes even better the next day when paneer soaks all the flavors so you can make it in advance.
- More recipe tips and tricks are given in the post above. Please follow them to make this recipe.