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  • Writer's pictureJyothi Varne

Nagpur Style Saoji Chicken Curry

Cooking with whole spices, freshly roasted and ground - has always been my favorite way of adding in an amalgamation of flavors to any dish. Luckily, a lot of Indian regional cuisines allow us to do that. Spice, hotness, that burning sensation that makes you either scoop up another spoon or gulp something chilled to soothe your senses. We've all been there, haven't we? My early remembrance of a really spicy dish was Kolhapuri Mutton, you may find this recipe in my blog archives. However Saoji style takes it to another level. Nope, don't worry you won't be running around because there's a fire up your mountain when you make this dish :) But trust me this chicken curry is unline anything you've ever tasted.

The dark color of this curry is rendered by slow roasting of a dry coconut piece over an open flame. Smoky flavor, thickening agent, and consistency unlike anything else is something this black piece of coconut will do as a part of your masala, but be sure not to "BURN" it too much. We just want the entire piece to darken, that's about it. Although we will be grinding all the spices together once cooled, it's always good to individually dry roast them on a slow flame. I normally use a large nonstick pan to do this - helps me with even heating and swirl the ingredients around. Remember to slow cook your masala base really well on a low flame, until all that oil separates in corners, and then add in your chicken pieces.

Preparation Time: 45 mins

Serves: 3


To be dry roasted :

1 Tsp Jeera (Cumin Seeds)

4 Elaichi (Green Cardamom pods)

1 Kali Elaichi (Black Cardamom Pod)

1 Tsp Black peppercorns

1/2 Jaifal (Nutmeg)

1 Javitri (Mace)

1 Chakri Phool (Star Anise)

2 Laung (Clove)

1 Tsp Patthar Phool (Stone Flower)

1 Inch Dalchini (Cinnamon)

1 Tsp Saunf (Fennel Seeds)

1 Tsp Shahi Jeera

4 Tez Patte (Bay Leaves)

2 Tbsp Khas-Khas (Poppy Seeds)

2 Tbsp Sabut Dhaniya (Coriander Seeds)

1 Tbsp Jowar Atta

8-9 Red Chillies (soaked in hot water for min 20min)

1/4th Cut Dry Coconut, roasted over an open flame

1 Tbsp + 1 Katori Oil

2 Cut Onions

Few Coriander leaves with stem

1/2 cup Palak (Spinach leaves)

2 Tbsp Ginger/Garlic paste

1 /4th Tsp Hing (Asafoetida)

1 Kg chicken with skin/ curry cut

1/2 Tsp Haldi Powder

2 Tsp Red Chilli powder (as per preference)

Salt as per taste

Chopped Coriander for garnishing


  1. Dry roast all ingredients mentioned under " to be dry roasted" in a pan. Set aside.

  2. In a mixer grinder, add the above whole spices, roasted coconut, red chillies,1 large raw onion, 2 tbsp coriander leaves and spinach. Grind to a fine paste by adding very little water.

  3. Heat oil in a pan, add one finely chopped onion, ginger garlic paste and cook for 4 mins on a medium simmer.

  4. Add in your ground masala base and cook until the raw smell disappears, oil starts to separate around the edges. You need to cook this until your masala base darkens completely and doesn't stick to the bottom while stirring.

  5. Next add in the chicken pieces, turmeric powder, hing, chilli powder and mix well. Let this cook on high heat for 5 mins.

  6. Add in salt as per taste, water as per the consistency required (I added one large glass since I wanted a thicker consistency).

  7. Cook with a closed lid on with intermittent stirring until the chicken meat is completely cooked and oil starts to float atop.

  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with white rice, rotis or naan.

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