City Food – Milk Cake, Kucha Ghasi Ram
Sweeten the senses.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Some mysteries should never be solved. Why ask how the sticky, gooey milk cake is made? Why ruin the romance by disclosing that this luscious mithai, which looks like beehive and tastes of ambrosia, is made of nothing but milk and sugar?
This pride of Delhi desserts is sold in almost every sweet shop, but the purity of the full-cream milk used to make it is said to determine the 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 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 a range of other dairy products such as barfi, rabri, dahi and chai. But you’ll soon spot the milk cake halwai — he is always seen simmering sweetened milk in a huge pot, stirring it for hours. As it start leaving brownish streaks, the grainy, slushy mixture of half-evaporated milk is transferred into a tray and steamed till it sets.
Cut into slices and eaten, milk cake immediately fills the mouth with sugary sap. The smell of condensed milk engulfs the senses as a piece of the cake slips down the throat.
The morsels stick in the crevices of your teeth. You roll your tongue all around to get them, 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 are the framed portraits of Hemchand, the founder, his son, the late Ladli, and his grandson, Gopi Kishan, who passed away three years ago. The shop is now run by his great-grandson Anup.
In other words, the milk cake is here to stay.
Where Hemchand Ladli Prashad, near Fatehpuri Masjid Nearest Metro Station Chandni Chowk
Of pure milk