Saoji Chicken

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This recipe, from the Nagpur region of Maharashtra, has been adapted from the Saoji Mutton recipe in Aditya Mehendale’s book ‘Rare Gems’. This recipe works equally well with mutton (lamb), chicken, prawns and even paneer for the vegetarians among us.

Ingredients

For the spice paste

  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • 10 dried red kashmiri chillies
  • 200g fresh grated coconut
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp black cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 black cardamom pods
  • 3″ cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried lichen (dagar phool)

For the chicken curry

  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 10 large bone-in chicken thighs with skin
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped coriander leaves, to garnish

Method

  • For the spice paste, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions for a few minutes until they soften.
  • Add the onions, spices and grated coconut and grind to a paste in a blender.
  • Heat the oil, add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute (don’t let it burn)
  • Add the spice paste, the chicken, some salt and mix well, until the chicken is well coated with the paste. Stir in some water (just enough to cover the meat) and bring to a boil.
  • Bring the heat down to low, cover with a lid and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked tender and the gravy has thickened. Check partway through the cooking to ensure that there is enough liquid in the pan and that the gravy is not sticking and burning. Stir in more water if needed.
  • Check the salt and add more seasoning if needed.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice or rotis.
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