The city you should see: Where leftovers are the real thing
An unusual delicacy in a longtime Kinari Bazar mithai shop.Updated: Jul 01, 2019, 10:01 IST
Khurchan means ‘leftover scrapes’ in Hindi. The preparation sounds simple: boil the milk, scrape off the skin repeatedly appearing at the top, which is eventually mixed with bhoora (powdered sugar).
Khurchan is gooey, sticks to the teeth and, for some reason, it is not seen in Delhi’s mithai shops. In Old Delhi’s Kinari Bazaar, however, a place is dedicated exclusively to this dessert. Hazari Lal Jain Khurchan Wale, like most classic landmarks in the Walled City, is a small, seemingly irrelevant establishment.
Sandwiched between stores selling wedding paraphernalia (saris, sehras…), the shop was founded more than 90 years ago by Gauri Shankar Jain, a migrant from Jaswant Nagar, UP. His son was Hazari Lal after whom the shop is named. Following his death in 1983, Hazali Lal’s son, Sunil, took over the reins of the family’s khurchan principality. His son, Aman, is now also seen in the shop.
Local old-timers confirm that the quality of Hazari Lal’s Khurchan hasn’t deteriorated down the generations. The mithai has a deceptively dry surface, embedded with roughly chopped pista nuts. With every bite, the khurchan’s inner moistness oozes out into the mouth like a minor flood. It is a bit too sweet, but maybe that’s of no concern to a conservative Delhi belly.
At Hazari Lal’s, customers have to stand outside the counter—on the super-chaotic street! Inside, two lungi-clad ‘kaarigars’ (from Madya Pradesh) patiently stir the boiling milk in their respective cauldrons, skimming aside the cream that repeatedly forms up on the surface. Four liters of milk produce half a kilo of khurchan, worth 320 rupees.
During his Lahore bus ride in 1999, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee carried Hazari Lal’s khurchan for his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. The gift was soon followed by the war in Kargil.