City Food – Khurchan, Kinari Bazaar
Delhi’s sweetest leftover.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The name Khurchan means ‘leftover scrapes’ in Hindi. Its preparation is simple: boil the milk, scrape off the leftover from the karahi’s bottom, slap it on a tray, sprinkle bhoora (powdered sugar) and serve.
Khurchan is gooey, it sticks to the teeth and for some reason, it ‘s not widely available in Delhi’s mithai shops. In Old Delhi’s Kinari Bazaar, however, there is a shop dedicated exclusively to this dessert. Hazari Lal Jain Khurchan Wale, like most great places in the Walled City, is a small, seemingly insignificant establishment. Sandwiched between stores selling wedding paraphernalia (jewelry, saris, currency garlands, groom’s turbans), the shop was founded around 90 years ago by Gauri Shankar Jain, an immigrant from Jaswant Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. His son was Hazari Lal – after whom the shop is named. Following his death in 1983, Hazali Lal’s son, Sunil, took over the mantle.
Khurchan’s quality hasn’t deteriorated down the generations. Each slice has a deceptively dry surface, embedded with roughly chopped juliennes of pistachio. As you bite, its inner moistness releases and further softens the sticky texture. It is a bit too sweet, but that’s how a Delhi belly likes it.
At Hazari Lal’s, customers can’t get in. They have to stand outside the counter. A large milk container bars the entry. (The milk is of buffalo’s; they say that cow’s milk is not thick enough). Inside, four lungi-clad workers, squatting on the floor, stir the boiling milk in their respective karahis. Each time the cream clots up on the surface, the worker pulls it aside. When almost all the milk is gone, he scrapes off the leftovers, the khurchan. Three liters of milk in one karahi make half a kilo of khurchan. Priced at Rs 370 a kg, the mithai brings many well-heeled Delhiites to this congested part of the city. During his Lahore bus ride in 1999, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had carried Mr Jain’s khurchan as a gift for his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. Three months later, India and Pakistan started the Kargil war.
Where Khurchan Wala, shop no. 2225, Kinari Bazaar, Dariba Kalan Phone 011-3253992 Nearest Metro Station Chandni Chowk
The khurchan landmark
(From left to right) Sunil Jain, Lord Mahavir, Hazari Lal Jain
Boiling the milk
Khurchan on the side
Ready to be scraped
Slapping on the tray
Ready for the counter
Mr Jain, give me khurchan
Rs 370 per kg
Take a bite
A khurchan shopper
Death by khurchan