Sarosh's Chicken Jalfrezi Pita Pockets with Quick-Pickled Onions

A spicy tomato base makes this savoury sandwich — that uses rotisserie chicken — a delight absolutely any time.

A spicy tomato base makes this savoury sandwich — that uses rotisserie chicken — a delight absolutely any time

(All photography by Gabriel Cabrera)

This has been a favourite in our home since I was in elementary school. When we’d return from a trip late at night, my mother had a way of transforming leftover chicken — from a curry or a roast chicken — into a spicy, tomato-based pita pocket. She called it her ‘quick chicken Jalfrezi’. For those who prefer a version with no carbohydrates or gluten, you can substitute pita bread with romaine lettuce leaves.

Sarosh's Chicken Jalfrezi Pita Pockets with Quick-Pickled Onions

*You can use fresh tomatoes when they are in season, and feel free to substituted with canned chopped tomatoes when they are not.


Quick-Pickled Red Onions:

  • 1 cup thin half-moon slices red onion
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Chicken Jalfrezi:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chili powder, or more, to taste
  • ½ tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, or more, to taste
  • 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes*
  • 4 cups shredded roasted or rotisserie chicken
  • 2 tbsp julienned ginger
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stem, ribs and seeds removed, sliced thinly

To assemble:

  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, julienned
  • 4 pita breads (6-inch), cut in half
  • 8 Bibb lettuce leaves

Equipment needed:

  • A 16-oz heatproof jar


Prepare the quick-pickled onions:

Place the onions in a heatproof glass jar. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a gentle boil, and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions. When cool, seal with a lid and transfer to the refrigerator. The onions will be pickled within 30 minutes, but the taste improves after 24 hours in the refrigerator. 

Prepare the chicken:

Place a large, heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is glistening, add the onions and sauté until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes, until golden. Add turmeric, chili powder, paprika, salt, and tomatoes and cook until a thick sauce begins to form, about 7-10 minutes. Add the chicken, ginger and red pepper and toss together. Cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the red pepper is tender, but still crisp. Taste for salt, and add more, if needed. Allow to cool.

To serve:

To the cooled chicken Jalfrezi, add the mint and toss well. Line each pita pocket with a lettuce leaf. Spoon the chicken Jalfrezi into the pita halves, dividing evenly. Add slices of pickled onions to each pita half.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Shayma Owaise Saadat is a food writer and chef. She lives in Toronto with her husband and son. You can follow her culinary journey at or on Instagram at @SpiceSpoon.