HYDERABAD: Kulchas have an emotional connect with Hyderabad. It is said that after being appointed the governor of Deccan Mir Qamaruddin Khan went to pay homage to a Sufi saint in Delhi, who served him a dinner of kulchas. The hungry future Nizam ate seven of these and was blessed by the Saint that his descendants will rule Deccan for seven generations. The folklore goes that a few years later, after declaring independence from the Mughal rulers in Delhi, the first Nizam included the symbol of kulcha as part of his official flag. Some persons though contest this story and say that the flag actually had the image of the moon.
Speaking about kulchas, the most famous version of this Indian bread is from Amritsar, a preparation completely different from the Hyderabadi ones.
Served with chhole or chickpea curry as well as butter and salad, the round and layered bread from the tandoor is popular in legendary eateries all over the city of the Golden Temple. While the original version has potato stuffing, you also have versions with cauliflower, paneer, other vegetables and even a masala version with extra spices.
The composition of the stuffing is extremely important, care needs to be taken that the vegetables and spices are in the right proportions. Made of wheat flour dough and rolled into layers, the stuffed kulchas are often a bit flaky on the outside while retaining the moisture inside. On crushing the top layer with hand, the dollop of butter loosely put on top permeates through, imparting a delicious taste.
In Hyderabad, The Kulcha Kulture, a kiosk at The Alley, a drive-in at Madhapur specializes in Amritsari Kulcha. The owner Sajan Sharma is himself from Amritsar and has started this place to serve authentic Amritsari Kulcha. Sharma had been in Hyderabad for the last five years and he rued the fact that the taste of the kulchas in the Punjabi restaurants here wasn’t close to the real thing in Amritsar. This prompted him to start this place. The tandoor for the outlet was brought from Amritsar to Hyderabad as Sharma felt that the brown coloured clay of Punjab creates an optimum temperature inside the tandoor for the kulchas to get the proper look and taste.
The senior kitchen staff are also from Amritsar and have more than 20 years of experience in preparing kulchas. An innovation for Hyderabad is the Chilly Kulcha for the spicy palate and a contemporary Pizza Kulcha which has a topping of assorted vegetables like carrot, capsicums and a stuffing of cheese. The kulchas here iare crisp and flaky, while the chhole tastes more like comfort food with the masalas again brought from Punjab. A few other places are known for their Amritsari kulcha too – Norfest the Dhaba and Dildaar Dhaba are some who are well-known among these. Sabyasachi is a food enthusiast and blogs at www.foodaholix.in