The Origin Of Saoji Cuisine And It's Famous Dishes
Image Credit: Saoji chicken curry | Instagram - @sanjaykeswaniphotography

Nagpur, a city in the central Indian state of Maharashtra, is known for its unique cuisine, called Saoji. Saoji cuisine is a rich and spicy cuisine that has a fascinating history dating back to the 18th century.

The Saojis were a small community of people who lived in the Nagpur region, and they were known for their war skills. They were the mainstay of the Maratha army, and they developed a high-energy, protein-rich diet to keep them strong and healthy during long battles. This diet eventually evolved into the Saoji cuisine, which is characterised by its bold, spicy flavours and the use of unique spices.

The Saoji cuisine Is primarily meat-based, with mutton and chicken featuring as the most popular meats used in the preparation of Saoji dishes. The meat is cooked in a spicy gravy made from a mix of special Saoji spices, including black pepper, bay leaves, and dagad phool. Dagad phool, also known as stone flower or lichen, is a type of moss found in the forests of central India, and it is one of the key ingredients that gives Saoji dishes their unique flavour.

Saoji cuisine dates back to 18th century | Instagram - @halfcowtails

Another popular dish is Saoji mutton, which is a mutton curry cooked in a spicy gravy made from a mix of special Saoji spices. The mutton is cooked with onions, tomatoes, and a blend of spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaves. The dish is usually served with rice or naan bread and is a favourite among meat lovers.

One famous dish, Saoji vada, is a spicy and tangy snack that originated from the city of Nagpur in the state of Maharashtra, India. It is made from a mixture of lentils, onions, and a special blend of spices known as Saoji masala, which gives it a unique flavour. The mixture is shaped into small balls and deep-fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Saoji Vada is typically served with a spicy and tangy chutney made from tamarind and jaggery. This popular snack is a favourite among locals and is often sold at street food stalls and in restaurants that specialise in Saoji cuisine.

Saoji kheema is another popular minced meat dish. The use of saoji masala gives rise to a distinct and spicy flavour. The dish is prepared by sautéing minced meat, onions, and tomatoes in oil along with the Saoji masala. The dish is usually served with hot chapatis or bread and can also be eaten with rice.

Saoji bhaji is a vegetarian option that is prepared with the special Saoji masala. The dish typically includes a mix of vegetables such as eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions that are cooked with the Saoji masala, creating a spicy and tangy flavour. The dish is usually served with hot chapatis or bread and can also be enjoyed with rice. Saoji Bhaji is a great way to try the famous Saoji cuisine of Nagpur, and it is a perfect choice for vegetarians looking to explore the rich cuisine.

One of the most popular dishes in Saoji cuisine is Saoji biryani. It is a flavourful biryani made with the special Saoji masala, chicken or mutton, and rice. The Saoji masala is a unique blend of spices that includes red chillies, coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds. The biryani is prepared by layering the cooked meat and rice, along with the Saoji masala and other spices, and then cooking it in the dum style. The result is a spicy and aromatic dish that is a must-try for anyone who loves biryani.

Saoji cuisine has gained popularity beyond Nagpur in recent years, and it is now available in many cities across India. Several restaurants in Nagpur specialise in serving Saoji cuisine, which is a must-try for anyone visiting the city.