Amritsar’s got the best kulchas

Amritsar’s got the best kulchas Amritsar’s got the best kulchas
Image courtesy: Pehlwaan Kulcha, Amritsar

Unless you are the luckiest person in the world you will find it impossible to get a good kulcha outside Amritsar.
The secret to a good kulcha lies in two aspects — its layering and the temperature of the tandoor. First, the flour is rolled into thin layers, individually coated in ghee and put together to create a kulcha. Then, if desired, it’s stuffed (often simply with cauliflower or potatoes).
Coming to the cooking temperature. At most restaurants, there is just one tandoor and everything goes into that. But, you can’t cook a good kulcha in a hot tandoor, like you can cook a naan or a tandoori roti. A kulcha needs its own special tandoor (non-gas fired is always best), kept at a gentle temperature.
And only in Punjab are there so many restaurants dedicated to kulchas that have tandoors kept at perfect kulcha temperatures. The kulcha is smacked to the wall of the tandoor and cooks gradually. 

In the ten minutes that the kulcha spends in the tandoor, the ghee between the layers of dough slowly starts to melt. The melting ghee gives a delicious flakiness, the hallmark of a good kulcha.
So, you may get good kulchas in Ludhiana. But, only Amritsar’s cooks know how to make great kulchas. At a busy restaurant in Amritsar, there will often be twenty kulchas stuck to the walls of the tandoor. Each put in at a different time. Nobody can keep track of when each kulcha went in. No thermometer is used to check the temperature of the tandoor. That means there’s no way to know when a kulcha is ready to be pulled out.

It’s the judgement and experience, an expert eye and an instinct for exactly when each kulcha is ready. Pull it out too early and there will be no flakiness. Pull it out too late and the kulcha will be dry.
Once a kulcha is ready, you don’t need very much else. 

Unlike a tandoori roti which is usually an accompaniment, the kulcha is the star of the show.

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