Tempeh Jalfrezi: Indian-Chinese Style Stir-Fried Tempe (Vegan)

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Deyana Goh
Deyana Goh
Deyana was born in Singapore and lives there. She is half-Chinese, half-Arab, with a grandmother who was born to an Arab family in Bogor, Indonesia. Deyana grew up eating Indonesian food as it is cooked in Arab-Indonesian households, and has fond memories of the festive whole chicken stuffed with lamb.

Tempeh jalfrezi is a spin on the popular Indian jalfrezi dishes. These are usually prepared using a variety of ingredients including chicken, mixed vegetables, etc. For this dish, I took inspiration from paneer (cottage cheese) jalfrezi. I replaced it with tempeh, which is an excellent vegan protein source and less fatty than cheese.

Jalfrezi, a dish originating in Bengal in India, is found in almost every North Indian/Mughlai restaurant around. It is an influence from Chinese cooking, as part of the cooking process involves stir-frying onions, capsicum, green chillies and other ingredients on high heat. You can serve it as a gravy, or cook it dry as well — this recipe is for the dry version.

Although the dish requires many ingredients, it’s not as time-consuming or tedious as it appears. You can buy some of the ingredients as powders off-the shelf at most Indian grocers. Most of the fresh ingredients are roughly sliced, which eliminates the painful process of finely-chopping stuff. All the ingredients, except for the tempeh, are readily available at Indian grocery or vegetable stores.


This dish tastes very similar to any typical jalfrezi, except that it’s heavier, denser and has more heat. It’s a great, warming dish to enjoy when the weather is cold! You can eat it with steamed rice, or roti or other breads. 

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Tempeh Jalfrezi

Tempeh Jalfrezi: Indian-Chinese Style Stir-Fried Tempe in Thick Sauce (Vegan)

  • Author: Deyana Goh
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Tofu & Tempeh
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegan


Tempeh jalfrezi is a modified version of the popular Indian dish paneer jalfrezi, except that it uses tempeh instead of cottage cheese as a source of protein with lower fat content.


  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger, thinly sliced
  • ½ green capsicum, sliced
  • ½  tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ tomato, roughly chopped
  • 200g tempeh
  • 3 green bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • Pinch of garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Cut the tempeh into 1 inch cubes
  2. Fry the tempeh until golden, about 5 minutes and set aside (optional).
  3. In a separate pan, heat the 2tbsp vegetable oil on low heat. Add the cumin seeds until they start to sputter, about 2 min.
  4. Add the shallots. Fry till they turn  golden-brown, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and green chillies. Fry till fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the following: finely chopped tomatoes, tempeh, coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder. Stir fry for 5 minutes. Add a bit of water if it looks like it’s burning.
  7. Add salt and garam masala. Continue stir-frying for another 10 minutes. 
  8. Add all the remaining ingredients (i.e., red onion, ginger, green capsicum, roughly chopped tomatoes, coriander leaves) and cover the pan for 3 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.

Tempeh Jalfrezi Dry (Vegan)


  • The tempeh is fried first and set aside, but this is mostly to make sure it doesn’t fall apart when stir-fried. If you want to make a healthier version, skip the frying – it tastes just as good.

Keywords: Tempe, capsicum, spicy, common ingredients

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