Friday 28 December 2012

Turkey Jalfrezi/ Jhalfrezi

So what do you do with the half a turkey that's left over anyway? Now that Christmas is over, I am suddenly feeling the post-holiday blues, helped along with a rather large quantity of leftover giant 18 pound turkey that I cooked for Christmas dinner.

But that said, if you're me, or for that matter, any Indian (generalising, much?) you smother it with spices and turn it into a jalfrezi. Simple, really!

OK, so this idea's not the most original of the lot, seeing as jalfrezi's were originally devised as a way to use up leftovers after a traditional British roast dinner. This classic Indian dish originated in British India, and is attributed to the 'khansamahs' or chefs who worked for British families in India. Even though the Indians didn't generally do a roast dinner, the Brits did, and their clever chefs repurposed the leftovers by stir frying them with spices and vegetables. 

A classic, simple jalfrezi consists of roast chicken, cut into strips (or you can also fry up raw chicken strips), green peppers and onions. You can just as easily replace the vegetables and meats with whatever you have handy.  Beef or lamb would be delicious in this dish, as would a variety of vegetables. I also make a paneer jalfrezi which is simple, yet flavourful dish.  

For this turkey jalfrezi, I used up some of the leftover breast meat, which I sliced into strips and marinated. This dish is remarkably easy to put together once the turkey has marinated for an hour or so, with a few store cupboard spices, onions and some crushed tomatoes. I like to be a little different and add a sprinkling of fennel seeds along with cumin for a slightly more nuanced flavour and I serve it up with some rice or naan for a quick dinner. I tell you, leftover turkey never tasted this good! Oh, and yes, Kay and Aditi are still vegetarian, but my cousin's staying with me, so I finally get a meat taste tester, yippee! She gave this dish two thumbs ups, phew!

So, now that you've seen what I do with turkey leftovers, tell me your favourite leftover turkey tips? And trust me, I really need them ideas now :)   

Turkey Jalfrezi/ Jhalfrezi

(Printable Recipe

500g cooked turkey breast or thighs (leftovers are great, as are frozen leftovers)
1 green pepper
1 red or yellow pepper


1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon hot cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unscented oil 


1 - 2 tablespoons unscented oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 medium onion, diced fine
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, grated 
1 green chilli, or to taste, chopped finely
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes (or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced fine)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala (homemade is yummy in this recipe)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 
1/2 cup hot water
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro/ coriander, to garnish 


Thaw out the turkey, if frozen. Slice the turkey breast or thigh meat and the peppers into even sized strips. Keep the peppers aside.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade, and rub into the turkey strips. Refrigerate for an hour, or even overnight. When ready to cook, bring the marinated turkey back to room temperature.

Make the sauce. Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan, and add the whole cumin and fennel seeds. When they sizzle, about 30 seconds, add the diced onion, and fry on a gentle heat, about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened and just beginning to colour. 

Add the ginger, garlic and chillies, and fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the ground cumin, coriander, garam masala and turmeric. Season with a little salt. 

Stir and fry for about 5 - 7 minutes on a medium low heat, until the masala is thick and the oil is beginning to separate from it.

Add the sliced peppers and fry for another 3 - 4 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Add the marinated turkey and stir gently until the turkey is coated in the spicy masala. Add about 1/2 cup of hot water, turn up the heat and simmer rapidly until the sauce is thick and coats all the turkey and vegetables. 

Adjust seasoning to taste, and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with rice, naan or roti. 

Turkey Jalfrezi/ Jhalfrezi


  1. What a gorgeous flavourful after holiday dish! I enjoyed your eggnog post, too. I also make eggnog ice cream every year - never posted it - and mincemeat ice cream. I will be posting that this year - sometime. I enjoyed reading about the evolution of your recipe for it!
    Happy New Year!

  2. Michelle this is brilliant - finally a wonderful answer to leftover turkey - i LOVE these flavors - photos are gorgeous as usual!!
    mary x

  3. Looks delicious. Your spice blend isn't too different from my shwarma blend.

  4. I really love indian foods! I really like how you combine the vegetables to the other seasoning and ingredients. I will have to try this later. Thank you for sharing and I hope you can post more Recipes For Stir Fry.

  5. Great article! I recently received RawSpiceBar's Indian Spices- garam masala and tandoori spices for making chicken tikka masala and it was pretty spot on. It's tough to find freshly ground kashmiri chiles and other high quality hard to find spices. Look forward to receiving next month's spice blends from them and worth looking into if you're an adventurous cook.


I love hearing back from my friends and readers. Please let me know how you liked this post, and if you would consider making this recipe, or have already made it. Please take a moment to post pictures on my Facebook page, if you do happen to take a couple :)

Please note, that due to the enormous amount of spam comments I've been getting, I am re-enabling comment moderation. Your comment will be visible on approval. Apologies in advance.