Paneer Jalfrezi is a popular spicy, tangy Indian style stir fry made with onions, crunchy bell peppers and soft cottage cheese. Paired with an aromatic jeera or cumin rice redolent with ghee and aromatic spices, it makes for an easy and wholesome meal.
Paneer or soft Indian cottage cheese is a godsend in our household. Having paneer on the menu is a sure way to make a certain little someone happy… very happy!
There are several paneer recipes and you could do anything with it, from savory curries to sweet desserts. This paneer butter masala is a classic dish, and Boy’s absolute favorite thing in the world. Paneer is such a great way to incorporate protein into a vegetarian meal. You can cook it with greens, make paneer kofta or cheese balls and even incorporate them in Oriental dishes like in this Thai massaman curry.
Today’s recipe is super easy, quick, delicious and needs just a handful of ingredients. Jalfrezi is an Indian stir fry of sorts with a thick gravy. It is made with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, spices and your choice of protein. Usually something than can be easily cooked like chicken, egg or paneer is used.
I always like to lightly fry my paneer before using it in a recipe such as this. The fried paneer is great for snacking too!
Paneer jalfrezi goes great with plain rice or rotis, but I decided to pair it with jeera rice for this post. You get two recipes in one, making this a complete meal solution. Both the jalfrezi and jeera rice are incredibly easy recipes.
Jeera or cumin rice is simply rice cooked in some fragrant golden ghee, aromatic spices and lots of cumin seeds or jeera. The result is fluffy, perfectly cooked rice with amazing aroma and flavor. It is a simple enough recipe to make on weekdays and I make it often, because again, this is one of Boy’s other favorites.
Along with cumin, jeera rice is flavored with spices like fresh cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, black pepper, etc. It is a great accompaniment to Indian curries, both non vegetarian and vegetarian. It also goes excellently well with a simple dal curry as a light comfort food.
This delicious pairing is easy enough to accomplish on a busy weeknight and fancy enough for a weekend get-together with friends. Find both recipes below.
- Oil - 1½ tbsp, divided
- Paneer - 8 oz or 350 gm, cut into cubes or strips
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Onion - 1 medium-sized, thinly sliced
- Ginger-garlic paste - 2 tsp
- Tomatoes - 2 large, sliced
- Tomato paste - 2 tbsp (can use ketchup in a pinch)
- Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
- Red chili powder - 2 tsp (or less, if you do not want it spicy)
- Coriander powder - 1½ tsp
- Garam masala powder - ½ tsp
- Green bell pepper - 1, sliced
- Salt - to taste
- Kasuri methi - 1 tsp, crushed (see Notes)
- Cilantro leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
- Ghee - 1 tbsp
- Cinnamon - 1" stick
- Cloves - 3
- Green cardamom pods - 3
- Star anise - a small piece
- Black pepper corns - 6, lightly crushed
- Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
- Basmati rice - 1 cup, rinsed
- Water - 2 cups
- Lime juice - 2 tsp
- Salt - to taste
- Paneer Jalfrezi: Heat ½ tbsp oil in a large skillet with slightly raised sides. Fry paneer slices lightly on all sides, Drain and remove to a paper towel lined plate.
- Heat rest of the oil in the skillet. Add cumin seeds and allow it to crackle.
- Add onions and saute till translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell is gone.
- Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and cook till tomatoes are mushy and you see the oil separating at the sides, around 4-5 minutes.
- Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and stir to combine.
- Add green bell peppers and salt to taste. Cover and cook for a few minutes till peppers are tender-crisp. You do not need any water really, but sprinkle some water if you think it is too dry.
- Finally, fold in the fried paneer pieces and heat through. Do not cook for a long time after adding the paneer or they will toughen and turn chewy.
- Sprinkle crushed kauri methi and cilantro leaves. Serve hot with jeera rice.
- Jeera Rice: Rinse the rice a couple of times under cold water. Soak in cold water for 20 minutes, if possible.
- Heat ghee in a pan. Add whole spices (as listed above, from cinnamon through black peppercorns) and allow them to sputter and turn fragrant.
- Add cumin seeds and saute till they are lightly browned, but not burnt. Then add the drained rice and lightly roast in the ghee for 30 seconds. All the rice should get coated in the ghee.
- Add water, lime juice and enough salt (water must be salty) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook till rice is done. Fluff rice gently with a fork before serving.
2. You can also make jalfrezi with other vegetables like sliced carrots, beans, fresh peas, baby corn, etc. Another easy recipe is to replace paneer with sliced boiled eggs to make egg jalfrezi. You can also make chicken jalfrezi with boneless chicken strips, but the cooking time must be adjusted accordingly.
3. This jeera or cumin rice recipe is super simple and uses only a handful of aromatic spices for flavor. If you wish to, you can also caramelize some onions and ginger first before cooking the rice.
4. Check the rice once in between to see if it's done. Sprinkle more hot water as needed.
5. You can also use a rice cooker to cook the rice. Do the initial steps of sautéing the spices and rice in ghee, then transfer it along with water, lime juice and salt to a rice cooker and cook as per the settings for white rice.
6. Start the rice first and while it is cooking, make the jalfrezi. Both dishes then get done simultaneously if you have just half an hour! The cooking time shown here reflects this, while each recipe made on its own may also take the same time.
Ad delicious Indian meal is done in no time at all. Do give these recipes a try!
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Do you like paneer? What sort of recipes do you make with it? Do try this delicious combo and let me know how you like it.
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