Secret recipe: Das Kulcha

This report was first published here

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

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.

Video Report made by City 42.

2 responses to “Secret recipe: Das Kulcha

  1. It is true that this breakfast item of Lahore has gradually disappeared and only this fellow Butt prepares it in Chuna Mandi area. We have purchased Das Kulcha and associated launchara from his out recently. I only wish its revival.
    I suppose with time it may disappear like Basant.
    What a shame.

  2. das kulcha is disappearing but the old lahorites still like it very much . its not available outside chuna mundi as most of the new generation even doesnt know its name i pray that this food of lahore may regain its share of foods of lahore

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s