A buzzing shack in Sarojini Nagar Market offers some real Amritsari kulchas
It was luck by chance, as the film goes. I had gone to Sarojini Market on another mission — but more of that next week — when I suddenly found a huge crowd in front of what looked like a small stall. A restive crowd, to my mind, usually translates into a good food outlet. I sniffed the air and found something suitably aromatic in it. I elbowed my way in, and discovered that I was standing in front of a shack that sold Amritsari kulchas.
When it comes to Amritsari kulchas, I get a bit weak-kneed. And one reason for that is you seldom get good Amritsari kulchas in Delhi. In most parts of the city, in fact, what goes as an Amritsari kulcha is anything but. All kinds of normal flat breads — fried, or oven-cooked — are passed off as kulchas. The last good Amritsari kulcha I had was in some corner of east Delhi. And while that was good, it was nowhere near the kulchas I had at this little shop in Sarojini Market, which should not be confused with the Sarojini Nagar Market. But first, let me give you directions to this place. If you are on Ring Road, with Bhikaji Cama Place on your right, go straight on the Africa Avenue flyover, and then take the first turn left. You will find shops on two sides of the road. Look to the right, and you will soon see something called King Kulcha. It's a new shop, having opened just a month ago. When I went there, I found a genial gentleman called Avtar Singh (9810671891) manning the counter. He stands with two large steel degchis by his side, one carrying chholey and another, chutney. You pay up, and he picks up a steel thali with inbuilt containers for you. He puts a helping of chholey in one of the hollows, and chutney in another. Then you take the plate to the man at the other end, who is baking kulchas in a tandoor. He takes out two hot kulchas, smears them with butter and places them on your plate.
They make three types of kulchas — filled with potatoes (Rs.40), masala (Rs.50) and paneer (Rs.60). Two kulchas are large enough for a full meal. Amritsari kulchas are delicious. Unlike the kulchas that you get in Delhi, which are mostly baked in an oven, Amritsari kulchas have to be cooked in an open tandoor. They contain less maida, so they are not very stretchy, as kulchas can sometimes be. Traditionally, Amritsari kulchas are stuffed, and I found King Kulcha's fillings rather good. But what complemented the kulchas were the chholey and chutney.
The chholey, cooked in very little oil, was hot, so hot that some Urao folks at home who otherwise eat, drink and breathe chillies were puffing and panting at the end of the meal. But the light tamarind chutney — topped with chopped red onions, spring onions and mint leaves — happily neutralised that, besides giving a wonderfully tart taste to the chickpeas. I had the chutney-topped chholey with the soft and buttery kulchas, and thought it was an excellent meal. Since I started with a film, I'd like to end with one. Singh, indeed, is king.