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Food & Wine

Jalfrezi stir-fries fish with a twist


Jalfrezi is one of the most popular dishes ordered in Britain’s restaurants, but it has not yet caught up in the U.S.

A stir-fry dish made with fresh or leftover meats, jalfrezi usually includes green chiles, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and spices. A Bengali word, “jal” means “pungently spicy” and “frezi” means “stir-fry.”

Think of this as an easy weeknight dinner – the kind that goes perfectly with a cold beer. The flavor can range from medium to very hot, as it gets its spiciness from green chiles.

A jalfrezi-style dish can include nearly any main ingredient, so it can be vegetarian or nonvegetarian. Add uncooked meats such as sliced chicken, lamb, fish or prawns, or use cubed pieces of paneer, the Indian cheese.

I have added an Indo-Chinese twist to my version of the dish – coating the white fish with a little cornstarch gives it added texture. I then toss the fish with vibrant vegetables, whole black peppercorns and bay leaves. The recipe below makes dinner for two.

Gitika Baveja is the author of “Indian Flavors to Savor: The Easy Home-Cooked Way.” For more information, visit flavors- tosavor.com.

White-Fish Jalfrezi

• 1 tilapia fillet fish, cut in small pieces and coated with mix of corn starch, lemon juice, red chili powder and salt

• 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped

• 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped

• 2-4 tablespoons olive oil

• 1/2 onion, cut in squares

• 1/2 red and green bell pepper, cut small

• 1 small tomato, chopped

• 1 fresh green chile, cut in 4 pieces (add more for more heat)

• 1/2 tablespoon garam masala powder

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Juice of one-half lime

• Small amount cilantro, finely chopped

• 2-3 bay leaves

• Few black peppercorns

In large wok or frying pan, heat olive oil and shallow-fry fish until it starts to brown. Remove fish to platter.

In same pan, add bay leaves, peppercorns and more oil as needed. Let sizzle. Add ginger and garlic. As they start to sizzle, add onions, tomatoes, bell pepper and green chile and give a quick stir. When peppers are cooked but still fresh and crispy, return fish to pan.

Add salt, black pepper and garam masala and mix gently. Garnish with cilantro and lime juice and serve immediately.

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