Nagpuri Saoji - Voorhees & Woodbridge

There are two locations for this shop specializing in a cuisine largely unavailable elsewhere in the US, Saoji from the city of Nagpur in the State of Maharashtra, India. This is something new to me, so I thought I’d explore while I was in the area. There are also Goan specialties on the menu.

First up was tarri poha. I expected a mound of poha (flattened rice) with a thin spicy sauce poured on top as I found repeatedly shown on the internet. What I got was a dry dish of poha with various crackers and crunchy beans. Lots of texture, but little flavor outside of some spicy heat. Looked far better than it tasted.

After that we received a Goan drink, solkadhi, which is a cooling beverage of coconut milk, a tropical fruit (kokum) and spices.

The next dish was the success of the night, sabudana vada, tapioca fritters. Served piping hot, these had a hot and gooey gelatinous texture you don’t expect from a fritter. Served with a surprise sauce that uses peanuts. Addictive.

We then ordered jhunka, a mix of onion and gram flour. This was a very dry starchy mound with little flavor. (not pictured).

We finished with shrikhand, a dessert that comes out as a stretchy pudding made from yoghurt, hung curd, sugar, and saffron. Intense flavor .

I came away from the meal disappointed, but feeling it could have been a lot better if I had chosen a curry to go with the jhunka. Still, I’m not convinced that it would have completely turned things around.


Interesting – everything you mention sounds like normal Maharashtrian fare, not specifically Saoji. Was that ordering choice on your part or did the server steer you that way?

Except the Tarri Poha which is how it’s served in Nagpur vs. elsewhere — odd that they didn’t give you the tarri part.

The Jhunka is itself served in place of “curry” — it’s pasty and thicker than dal, but serves a similar purpose. (Ethiopian Buticha actually reminds me directly of this dish.)

Did they have Bhakar on the menu to go with it? It’s a flatbread that’s thicker and rougher than chapati. Jhunka-Bhakar is a well-loved combination — about a decade or so ago the govt of Maharashtra created a massive program whereby food stalls were set up to sell this as an affordable and nutritious mid-day meal to workers of all income levels.



Yes, I did get the bhakar. It was thin, and I would say it had a rougher texture than chapati. Like the difference between regular vs whole wheat bread.

The jhunka was more like a substitute for kothu paratha, but drier. Hard to imagine it replaces a curry as it was served to me. I did the ordering, and I failed, but I certainly expected the tarri part of the meal, as you say. I needed you there!

Thanks so much for the the insight. I always learn so much from your posts.


I was just looking at recipes for zunka/jhunka, and as I should have expected there’s a wide range of textures, from the pasty one I’m familiar with to the drier one you were served.

Going back to my comment about Ethiopian Buticha/Butecha, I’ve been looking for a recipe to recreate the one I ate most often at a restaurant in nyc, and I came across a similar range of textural outcomes for that as well (with almost identical ingredients, except tempering - like the rest of their lentil dishes vs Indian ones).

If you got to this place again, try the Saoji curries, but with some caution in case they’re true to the spice level!