Sweeten the senses.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Some mysteries should never be solved. Why ask how the sticky, gooey, toffee-like milk cake is made? Why ruin the romance by disclosing that this luscious sweetmeat, which looks like the surface of a beehive and tastes of ambrosia, is made of nothing but milk and sugar?
The pride of Delhi sweets is sold in almost every sweet shop, but the purity of the full-cream milk used to make it, is what determines its quality. To get the best milk cake in town, you have to step into Kucha Ghasi Ram, a narrow lane near Fatehpuri Masjid in Chandni Chowk.
Facing a hair salon, the hole-in-the-wall Hemchand Ladli Prashad milk shop seems a conspiracy by milk cake lovers to keep the place a secret. There are no chairs, no tables. The shop’s best product is hidden among burfi, rabri, dahi (yoghurt) and chai. The halwai (cook) simmers sugared milk in a huge pot, stirring it for hours. As it start leaving brownish caramelised streaks, the grainy, slushy mixture of half-evaporated milk is transferred into a tray and steamed over a kettle till it sets.
Cut into slices and eaten, milk cake is chewy, and yet fills your mouth with sugary juice.
The wholesome smell of condensed milk engulfs your senses as it slips down your throat. The morsels stick in the crevices of your teeth. Your roll your tongue all around to get them out, and then coax them to melt into nothingness. This is double joy, and you’ve just had your first bite. On the wall of Hemchand Ladli Prashad is a picture of the infant Lord Krishna sucking a cow – he hasn’t yet discovered the milk cake secret.
Where Hemchand Ladli Prashad, near Fatehpuri Masjid Nearest Metro Station Chandni Chowk
Of pure milk
Deep within the street
Much in demand
The geography of a dessert
On sale, in another shop