HAZARI LAL JAIN KHURCHAN WALE
By Akshita Todi
ADDRESS- 2225, Kinari Bazar, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi,
TIMINGS- 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Sundays half day)
As I ventured into the winding streets of Chandni Chowk- Delhi’s throbbing market center which was first established during the Mughal rule, I experienced an overwhelming impact of the old Delhi charm. It was a bright summer morning, and the shops at Kinari Bazaar had not opened up yet, rendering the market quiet and unpeopled- a state which is diametrically opposite to its usual crowded, bustling atmosphere. Sequestered within the quiet narrow streets, a lone sweets’ shop was buzzing with activity, infusing the air with the smell of sweet condensed milk.
The shop was established in Kinari Bazar by the late Mr. Hazari Lal Jain 76 years ago and is currently managed by his son- Mr. Sunil Jain. It specializes in a variety of traditional milk-sweets like khurchan, malai laddoo, rabri, kalakand and gulab jamun. It also sells samosas with a filling made of a combination of peas, cashew nuts and raisins, as opposed to the usual potato filling for this is considered to be healthier. The shop is tiny and allows space for two stoves where large quantities of milk are boiled and condensed while 3-4 lungi clad men constantly engage themselves in the process of preparing the dishes. One of these men- Mr. Kalyan Singh- who has been working here for the past 26 years volunteered information about the shop freely, taking great interest in telling us about the preparation method for the shop’s speciality- Khurchan (meaning scrapings in hindi).
Khurchan is prepared by boiling milk for around 1- 1.5 hours. While the milk is boiling, the men use a thin twig to scrape off the layer of malai from the surface repeatedly. These scrapes are then layered with powdered sugar in a metal container. Khurchan has a very soft texture and the powdered sugar causes it to melt in one’s mouth. 3.5 liters of milk are required to prepare 0.5 kg of khurchan. The shop prides itself on using undiluted buffalo’s milk for making and selling dishes which form an essential part of the country’s traditional cuisine.
In the end, Mr. Singh decided to impart to me a precious few words of wisdom about my responsibility to the nation as an aspiring writer while he skillfully pulled out the malai off the surface of the boiling milk. His words brought home the reality of our country’s cultural condition whereby, men like him who strongly hold on to their tradition and make a living by selling the taste of this beloved tradition are simultaneously capable of an amazing sense of adaptability which allows them to endorse the idea of a strong nation with powerful women writers.