Saoji Chicken Curry

I do not know what I was more excited about today ?!! The actual Saoji chicken curry or the fact that we were going to eat the chicken curry with pav/bread instead of your regular rotis/rice.  Today's lunch is dedicated to those who grew up in India when chicken curry was made only on Sundays, when you waited till Mahabharat was over to go to the butcher, when garam garam pavs came wrapped in yesterday's newspaper, and when you got excited if there was a comic strip in color in that particular newspaper, and when you fought with your sibling over who will get the precious tangdi piece ;)
I have always wanted to know how to make this delicious dish that I had in India once. According to information I found online, Saoji Chicken is native to the Savji community from the Malva region of India. The food is known for its hot and spicy non vegetarian delicacies and savji masala in places where savjis are concentrated in large numbers. Majority of the savji people are non vegetarian and hence preparation of variety of meat dishes is very common in the community. Goat meat, chicken and fish forms major component of Savji cuisine along with other vegetarian dishes. Small family style restaurants called Savjikhanavali or Saoji Hotel / Bhojanalaya, found in large numbers in places like Hubli, Bangalore, Belgaum in Karnataka, Nagpur and Solapur in Maharashtra etc.
This recipe is taken from Sanjeev Kapoor's site. However, I found the recipe was way too masaledar/spicy for the amount of chicken used. So I have reduced the quantity of spices and also quantity of some ingredients. I also added the tadka piece in the end for color.

Ingredients and Method:
Chicken 2.5 lbs (Half of a whole chicken, cut up in small pieces)
2 medium onions
2 tsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
4 cloves
8 Black peppercorns
2 green cardammoms
1 black cardammom
2 bay leaves
1 inch cinnamom stick
4 dry red chillies (Byadgi mirchi - which are mostly for color)
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/4 cup dry coconut
1 stone flower
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tsp kashmiri chili powder for color (mixed with a little water to make a liquidy)
Cilantro and lime juice for garnish

1. Wash and pat dry chicken. Cut into bite size pieces. Apply salt and half of the ginger garlic paste and set aside.
2. In a skillet, add some oil. Add the onions cut lengthwise.  Cook until they are brown in color. set aside.
2. In a flat bottom pan, dry roast all the spices ie from coriander seeds to stone flower on low flame and constantly stirring the contents so they do not burn. the contents will turn light brown and aromatic. This is when you know you are done. Set aside to cool a bit.  Now make a paste of the onions and the spices using a little water at a time.
3. In a pan, heat oil*. Add the remainder of the ginger garlic paste and sautee till the raw smell goes away. Now we braise the chicken a bit - Braising is the process of browning the chicken on high heat for a minute. This imparts a better flavor to the curry.  Pour the onion paste we made to the chicken and mix well until the chicken is well coated with the masala. Turn the heat to low/med and cover and cook the chicken for a good 20 to 25 minutes checking the curry intermittently. Towards the end of the cooking stage, say about 5 minutes into the end, add kashmiri chili powder water to the dish and mix well. Cook for a nother 5 to 8 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. Cover and set aside. You will see the tarri (masala oil) on the top layer! ENJOY this dish with bread - I used white kaiser rolls but wishing that I had those authentic Pau/Pav from India!

1. I would highly recommend using chicken with bones in this recipe.
2. When you take oil in step 3, you will need more oil than usual for the tarri (layer of masala oil) to appear on the top.
3. The chillies used should impart a reddish brown color to your dish. I have used kashmiri mirchi to bring that color out in this dish. You can skip that stage if you are not too keen about color.


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