Lucknow special: A dream start to the day with cream delicacy
A spot just opposite the iconic Gol Darwaza in the over-200-year-old Chowk market in Lucknow presents a distinct picture on a chilly winter morning.
The place is coming alive as early as 5am, a time when most people, barring a few fitness enthusiasts, are asleep elsewhere.
The spot is famous for malai makkhan, a cream desert available only in winter. And it’s time for the shopkeepers to get down to business.
Besides old Lucknow, this desert is prepared in Kanpur, Varanasi and some parts of Delhi.
The shop of Jagdish Sharan is among the several outlets lined up along the Gol Darwaza.
“We settle our shops by 5 or 5.30am to greet our customers who generally start coming in from 6am onwards,” says Ranjeet Kashyap, owner of the shop named after his grandfather.
Kashyap says the shop is more than 100 years old.
“You won’t find makkhan malai or nimish anywhere else in the city or in any other city, barring some. It’s quite famous among food lovers,” says Kashyap.
Asked why it’s so rare, Kashyap says this is because of the unique method of preparation.
The 50-year-old shop owner says it takes eight hours to prepare the desert. He learnt the art of making makkhan malai from his father and his grandfather, he adds.
Kashyap says preparation starts a day before with cow milk being boiled in a huge cauldron. Then, fresh cream is added and the milk is boiled again and allowed to cool under the sky.
“This is perhaps the most important step when the milk is exposed to dew and remains in the open for four to five hours. This is the only reason why it cannot be prepared in summer. Heat will melt the butter,” he says.
Next, the dew-exposed milk is churned for three hours in the morning. Powdered sugar, yellow colour and cardamom powder are added to give it the final flavour.
“No machine is used in the whole process, we use a traditional hand blender to churn out the malai. It adds to the taste,” he says.
However, he fails to explain why milk is exposed to the dew.
He sells around 60kg of malai makkhan daily. This quantity is prepared from around a ton of cow milk and cream. He sells a kilogram of the delicacy for Rs 400.
Devendra Chaudhary, Kashyap’s first customer of the day, says, “It’s a delight to taste malai-makhan at Kashyap’s shop. Nothing can beat the taste of makkhan that melts in the mouth.”
Chaudhary, a retired government employee, has been a regular customer since childhood.
Saurabh Sharma, another connoisseur of the desert, says, “We wait for months for a bite of makkhan that is only available in winter. It is an integral part of our breakfast. Now, a sugar-free variety too is available,” says Sharma.
Other foodies at Kashyap’s shop say since production will stop after Holi due to a rise in temperature, they want to relish every bite. Perhaps, that’s why there is sudden surge in demand as winter nears its end.