Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
1hr 5min

Saoji chicken, also known as Nagpur Chicken Curry is a famous and flavorful dish that hails from the city of Nagpur in India. This dish combines succulent chicken pieces with a rich, spicy gravy and has bold flavours, derived from a special blend of spices. It is perfect for those who like their food to have a spicy kick. Enjoying Saoji chicken with rice or naan is a wonderful way to enjoy the flavors of Indian cooking and make your meals more exciting.


6 Servings

For Marination

  • 1kg
    Chicken Thigh (cut into pieces)
  • 1tsp
    Turmeric powder
  • 1tsp
    Red Chilli powder
  • 1tsp

For Saoji Spice Paste

  • 1/4
    Dry Coconut (flame-roasted & chopped)
  • 10
    Dried Red Chillies/Bydagi Chillies
  • 1tbsp
    Poppy Seeds
  • 1tbsp
    White Sesame
  • 2tbsp
    Stone Flower (Dagad Phool)
  • 2in
    - Cinnamon Stick
  • 1tbsp
    Coriander Seeds
  • 4
    Green Cardamoms
  • 2
    Bay Leaves
  • 1tbsp
    Cumin Seeds
  • 6
  • 1
    Star Anise
  • 1
    blade Mace
  • 2
    Black Cardamom
  • 2tbsp
    Channa Dal
  • 1/2tbsp
    Fennel Seeds
  • 3tbsp
    Sorghum Flour (Jowar)
  • Water (as required for grinding)

For Curry Paste

  • 2tbsp
  • 2cup
    Onion (sliced)
  • 1in
    - Ginger
  • 10
    cloves of Garlic
  • 1/2cup
    fresh Coriander

For Cooking

  • 1/3cup
  • 1/8tsp
  • 1tbsp
    Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
  • 4cup
    Hot Water (as required)
  • 1tsp
    Salt (to taste)
  • 1tbsp
  • 3tbsp
    Lemon Juice (optional)


For Marination

  1. Mix chicken pieces with turmeric, red chilli powder, and salt until well coated. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

For Saoji Spice Paste

  1. Directly flame-roast dry coconut on high heat until nicely charred on the outside. Cool and chop them. Set aside.

  2. On low-medium heat, dry roast the chillies, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, coriander seeds, green cardamoms, bay leaves, cumin seeds, cloves, star anise, mace, black cardamom, channa dal, and fennel seeds in a pan until aromatic.

  3. Add the stone flower and sorghum flour to the pan. Roast for a few minutes, stirring continuously. Add the charred chopped coconut, and mix for a few seconds. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool completely.

  4. Blend into a fine paste with water as needed. Set aside.

For Curry Paste

  1. In the same pan, add oil and fry the onions, garlic, and ginger until slightly browned on high heat. Let it cool, then blend it into a smooth paste with fresh coriander leaves, adding water as necessary. Set aside.

For Cooking

  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed wok over low heat. Add asafoetida and kashmiri red chilli powder.

  2. Add the marinated chicken pieces, and sear on high heat for a few minutes.

  3. Stir in the prepared Saoji spice paste and onion-coriander paste. Cook until the oil starts to separate.

  4. Gradually add hot water to adjust the gravy’s consistency—season with salt, sugar, and lemon juice (optional). Bring to a boil, then simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and tender.

  5. Check the seasoning, adjust if necessary, and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

  6. Serve Saoji Chicken hot, accompanied by rice or Indian bread like chapati or bhakri. Enjoy!

Tips & Tricks

  1. The consistency of the curry can be adjusted according to preference.

  2. Saoji cuisine is known for its heat. If you're not accustomed to very spicy food, consider reducing the number of dried red chillies in the Saoji spice mix.

  3. You can use less oil for this recipe but traditionally more oil is added.

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Recipe by

Leena Kohli


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