The Kulcha Culture: What lies beneath the taste!

Source: Archana’s Kitchen

Hunger abode! Kulcha, the luscious taste of India has more to it than just being loaded with dollops of butter and sprinkled sesame seeds.

Northern India, known for its cold weather, warm people and hard to navigate small roads is home to every foodie’s delight. The food stalls here are just a hop and a jump far. To one’s surprise if there is one dish that shall pop out one every food stall or dhaba here, its kulcha!

The rising of the Kulcha Culture!

Source: Wikipedia

The naan kulcha, amritsari kulcha, chole kulche etc. the names vary and so does the taste. But what’s constant is – it is the feel of diving into its taste and the rich history of India. They say that naan emerged back in the days of undivided Punjab. Armies from Central Asia rode in new cooking traditions into the country. The Persian technique of leavened dough and tandoor was soon brought to life in northern India. The unrefined flour was now refined and made into dough. The dough was leavened to soften and fermented to run it on the griddle, thrown into a generous serving of mixture that contained potatoes with a lot of spices and then baked into the tandoor.

The heavenly smell and taste had bitten the food bugs for life. But that was not it! Soon enough the kulcha making was inspired by the French Chefs who adopted the policy of buttering and layering for creating puffs. The technique was adapted by enterprising Punjabis for making crispier and flaky kulchas. A slather of butter with multiple rolling of pins resulted in the baking of perfectly crispy and flaky kulchas the sign of which is the crackling sound that comes when the kulchas are taken out of the oven and crumbled with hands. If it crackles, it has been baked to perfection!

How Kulcha has become a regular street food and a delight for the most elite restaurants too!

Kulcha isn’t just a street food relish but has become a delightful indulgence in some elite restaurants who prepare this earthy dish in the most artistic way. Just like the Khansamas in the royal kitchens would serve stuffed kulchas with vegetables and gravies, the restaurants bring out the richness of the kulcha in every piece.

The street style masala kulcha offers freshness, ease and desi taste of the crispy delights but the elite restaurants bring intricate details, hygiene, and richness on the plate!

So, apart from just tasting the kulchas in the hidden lanes of Purani Dilli (Old Delhi) or around the busy streets of Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) in Amritsar, there are an array of restaurants that have perfected the taste. These don’t just promise better hygiene and plating but also deliver just the intricate taste you have been looking for. Prominent names in the list are Punjab Grill, Dhaba-Estd 1986 Delhi, Made in Punjab, Bukhara-ITC Maurya, etc.

Difference between Amritsari Kulcha and naan!

Source: Dailyhunt

Naan and Kulcha are two Indian breads with similarity yet a vast difference!

Amritsari naan was invented first when yeast was brought to Indian from Egypt in 187 BC. The accessibility soon led to naan recipe of leavening the dough and making it rise. The bake and serve technique of the naans made them a favorite amongst the Mughals who lovingly delved into it accompanied by kebabs, keema and gravy chicken.

Kulcha was made as a replication of naan with baking soda and the ease of making them on the tawa or kiln. This made the variety of the naan available to masses and royalties of all states. Amritsari kulcha originated as stuffed kulcha made from a mixture of potatoes, cottage cheese, onions and spices. There is also a little sweetness to it that comes from the use of pomegranate and sesame seeds.

Most paired items with the best of Kulchas!

Source: Salony’s Cook Book

Kulchas in India are paired with a variety of gravies and curries. The prominent names include:

Matar Kulcha – A preparation of dried peas curry served with kulchas and a generous helping of salad.

Masala Kulcha – A kulcha stuffed with a mix of vegetables and masalas. The masala kulcha recipe includes potatoes, cottage cheese, capsicum, dry fruits, peas, and a lot of masalas that include kasuri methi, coriander leaves, kashmiri red chilli, garam masala, dry mango powder, sesame seeds, ginger garlic paste etc.

The Kulchas plates generally come with chickpea curry, paneer gravy, chicken curry, aloo-matar, etc. and are paired either with hot and sweet cup of tea or a cold mighty glass of lassi!

And if you are a fan of Indian history, the recipe of the Khansamas in the royal kitchens would want you to devour it all in a bite. There is no other indulgence as buttery and crispy as a bite into the Kulchas!

Also Read: Kulchas and more at less than INR 250

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