Secret recipe

Published July 26, 2010

Das kulcha was one of the most popular breakfast items in Lahore for breakfast until about three decades ago. - Photo: Shah Nawaaz
LAHORE The city of Lahore, along with its ancient traditions and culture, is also known for its mouth-watering cuisine which predates even the British Raj. But Partition, apart from tearing apart Lahoris, also affected the city's cuisine. For example, the traditional das kulcha, which existed in the Mughal era, gradually faded out and disappeared. 


Lawyer MR Jan explains why das kulcha used to be popular in Lahore. Since water in the city was very hard, he says, residents ate das kulcha, which contains ingredients like fennel seeds' water and achar which help cure various digestive problems such as constipation.

 

Das kulcha was one of the most popular breakfast items in Lahore for breakfast until about three decades ago.

 

According to some aged Lahoris, before Partition people from Amritsar and other adjacent areas especially visited Lahore on weekends to eat das kulcha. Unfortunately, only one baker in the city, Zahid Butt, still bakes this traditional food and the only shop, Chohatta Mufti Baqir inside Mochi Gate, sells it.

 

Butt runs his business in Chuna Mandi Chowk and informed me that the recipe had been passed down through generations in his family. Apparently, the recipe is closely guarded and never given to outsiders.

 

Talking about the method of cooking, he said, “We prepare a special vegetarian broth by boiling chick pea pulse (daal channa) and fennel seeds separately for kneading the flour. Then after kneading the flour is ready for baking and we call it khamir which is baked in a specially made burner (bhatti).”

 

He also makes sure to stay super clean before cooking the das kulcha. “The khamir of das kulcha is very delicate and unhygienic elements like sweat and even the smell of onion and mango can spoil it. That is why before kneading flour we not only clean ourselves but also cover our hands.” This is also why doing wuzu was considered an integral part of cooking. 

 

Butt also talked about lonchra, an item that traditionally accompanies the das kulcha, along with cooked chickpeas, achar and salad. “Lonchra is basically fried gram flour which is fried very carefully in suitable heat.”

 

He blames the constant migration of people to and from the walled city for the current obscurity of das kulcha.

 

However, Rahat Dar a photo-journalist whose family has lived in the walled city for many generations begs to differ.

 

He says after Partition, and the subsequent migration of Hindus, vegetarian items like das kulcha began to die out.

Opinion

Editorial

UNGA speech
25 Sep, 2022

UNGA speech

CRISES test a nation’s resilience but also provide opportunities to rise and move forward. Prime Minister Shehbaz...
Dar’s return
Updated 25 Sep, 2022

Dar’s return

Dar will now be expected by his party to conjure up fiscal space for the govt to start spending ahead of the next elections.
Iran hijab protests
25 Sep, 2022

Iran hijab protests

FOR over a week now, Iran has been witnessing considerable tumult after a young woman died earlier this month in the...
Post-flood economy
Updated 24 Sep, 2022

Post-flood economy

WITH a third of the country — especially Sindh and Balochistan — under water, over 33m people displaced, and...
Panadol shortage
24 Sep, 2022

Panadol shortage

FROM headaches to fever to bodily pain — paracetamol is used ubiquitously in Pakistan as the go-to remedy for most...
Star-struck cops
24 Sep, 2022

Star-struck cops

IN this age of selfies and social media, it is easy to get carried away in the presence of famous people, even if ...