Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Saoji Mutton

As a child I was never ever a vegetable eater. But my mother was determined. So, in my early childhood she made me eat by promising to tell me stories of the fairies. When I started going to school, the trick was bribing or beating. She used to bribe me on the holidays when there was plenty of time and on the weekdays when there used to be rush, usually the beating used to get her the work.One tight slap lead me to cry at the highest pitch of my voice and while I cried with my swelling eyes and opened up mouth, mother swiftly used to put handful of rice, to fulfill her ultimate objective. Quick..but really a tedious method. Someone has said so right that memories are always confusing. The bitter memories always brings smile with it.
But later on I became less fussy, and with time I went on to becoming a silent eater. I eat whatever there is on the plate. Be it vegetables or chicken or fish. Mother also used to feel proud on the fact that I create no nonsense regarding the food matter. But there was only one dish, with which I had a particular preference, that is, the chicken should be hot and spicy and red. And Apart from the Bangalir Kosha Mangsho I have not seen any dish that much spicy and hot and red. I have shared the recipe of Chicken Kosha here. Will be posting the mutton kosha soon enough.:)

So, here is this traditional mutton dish of Nagpur that they call Saoji Mutton, where all three of my priorities have been put together in such a beautiful way that after tasting it for the first time...I slowly chewed the mutton extracting every juice from it, swallowed every bit and said...Yuuummmmm!!!! Seriously, if you like spicy chicken or mutton and do not have panic attacks when you see a fiery red curry, Saoji Mutton is for you. Otherwise eat at your own risk because...trust me its that hot!!

As I said, Saoji Mutton is a traditional meat dish of Nagpur, Maharashtra. The name of the dish Saoji Mutton  is from a particular caste of Maharashtra, who are called Sahukars, who are the business community of Maharashtra. Saoji Mutton is one of the famous mutton curries of India. I used lamb in my dish , you can use chicken as well as mutton. This dish uses some of the local spices of Maharashtra and it also uses a number of whole spices along with coconut, and black pepper, which gives Saoji Mutton its own dark and red color. Saoji Mutton goes well with naan or rumali roti. You can also enjoy Saoji Mutton with plain steamed rice and raita.

Saoji Mutton
Serves 4


  • 750gm mutton
  • 6 medium onions - sliced
  • 7 fat cloves of garlic - paste
  • 3 inch ginger - paste
  • 3 strips of 2 inch coconut
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tsp red chili powder(reduce the amount if you do not want too much heat in your dish)
  • 2 tsp shahi zeera / caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 5cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns (reduce the amount if you want it to be not so hot in taste)
  • 6 green cardamom
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 1 large stick of cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium bay leaves
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • Take some oil in a pan and heat it. Now add all the whole spices - shahi zeera, coriander seeds, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, dried red chilies, poppy seeds, coconut strips and bay leaves.
  • Sauté until the spices start to release their aroma. As soon as they start to brown transfer them to a separate bowl and let them cool down to room temperature.
  • Add some more oil in the pan and heat it up. To them add the sliced onions and sauté until they become golden brown. Transfer them to a separate bowl and let them come to room temperature.
  • Make smooth paste of the roasted whole spices and fried onions separately.
  • Now add rest of the oil in the pan and add the mutton pieces. Add some salt and sauté until the mutton changes its color.
  • Now add the ginger-garlic paste and fried onion paste and mix evenly. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the raw flavor of the ginger-garlic paste is gone.
  • Now add the whole spice mix paste, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Mix evenly and put cover. Cook for another 4-5 minutes so that the water released from the mutton tends to dry.
  • Now add 2 cups of water and put it on pressure. Do not put off flame until it blows 15 whistles. Do not rush and let the cooker release the vapor on its own. Once all the steam is gone, uncover the cooker and check whether the mutton is soft or not. If not, put it again on pressure.
  • If the mutton has become soft and tender already, put the dish on medium flame and simmer on medium flame for 15 minutes more or until the oil oozes out and the gravy thickens to your desired consistency.
Note: The dish requires Dagad Phool, which I was unable to find in any Indian Market here. But even without this particular spice, Saoji Mutton was exceptionally delicious.

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