I returned home on Monday after a 5-day work trip and was welcomed by a lovely surprise from Mahesh. He had cooked me dinner from scratch! He did not let me enter the kitchen and I had to wait till it was served to me. The house smelt of biryani and something else. That something happened to be Saoji Chicken. Mahesh had eaten this at Nagpur and had really liked it. He wanted me to give it a try at home. However, he beat me to it. Looking forward to many more such long work trips if this is what awaits me at home!
The Saoji Chicken was a thick and spicy gravy that was very fragrant as well. I could taste the garam masala, fried onions, and coconut in it. It went very well with the rotis and the raita. The chicken tasted fantabulous the next day. I think it would be a good idea to cook it a day in advance and then eat it the next day. That is only if you can resist eating it right away. No judgment if you give in as William Blake said “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained” 🙂
Mahesh followed this recipe. The source happens to be a lady who belongs to the Saoji community. Here is the recipe as it appears:
Chicken – 1KG (with bone)
Red chilly powder – as per the required hotness
Turmeric Powder – as required
Oil – As required
Onions – 2 large
Pepper corns – 2 teaspoons
Black Cardamoms – 8 to 10
Cinnamon sticks – 5 to 6 (an inch and half in length)
Poppy seeds – 1 teaspoon
Grated dry coconut – 1 small cup
Bay leaves – 2 to 3
Marinate the chicken with 2-3 spoons red chilly powder, 2 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and keep it aside.
1. Saute 2 sliced onions, 12 black peppercorns, 8 black cardmoms, 5-6 sticks of cinnamon and a spoon of poppy seeds (or peanuts if you dont have poppy seeds) till the onions turn brown (on low heat) then add a small cup of grated coconut and fry till the coconut also turns brown.
2. Blend this masala (gravy) in a mixer with a little water to make a fine paste.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil. Saute a sliced onion with a couple of bay leaves.
Once the raw onion smell is gone, put in the blended masala (above) and keep on stirring it till the oil leaves separates. Then put in some ginger-garlic paste. Once that is cooked mix in around 1 to 2 tablespoon of chilly powder(or more if u r brave enough), 1 tsp of turmeric powder and salt to taste. You may have to add more oil if required.
4. Add the chicken, cover the vessel, put water on the lid. Keep on stirring in between. Cook till the chicken is done. Then put in as much warm water as the desired consistency. Dont make it too runny, The gravy should be hot, spicy and thick with visible oil. Thats SAOJI !!! 🙂
5. Check for seasoning and stir in a tsp of garam masala.