Delhi (Gurgaon included) swears by it Chhole Bhature fix. There are many eateries which are undisputed leaders and then there are those who have set following. However, away from this, today, I write here about a slightly poor cousin of this CB. Yes, Chhole Kulche, the non-oily Chhole and the baked Kulcha. In exactly last one year, I have tasted Chhole Kulche, in various avtaars, at a few places which stand out but are not popular beyond the foodie community or their locales. I had written about them on my FB / Insta/ Twitter Accounts at different times. But then, today I got to taste yet another variant of this humble Chhole Kulche, the hero of my story today. I bring here a glimpse of all these variants and of course the Bheega Kulcha ! What’s it ? Read on.
The various versions of Chhole Kulche I have tasted, either the focus of the outlet is to do something unique with the Chhole or with the Kulcha. And yes, then there is one who focuses on both. Let’s see, how and where.
This is a hugely popular outlet in Naraina in Delhi. Reaching there is a bit tricky but you ask anyone and you would be guided there. The place is nested in middle of bylanes of a residential colony is always full of customers waiting for their share.
They serve Kulcha smeared with Fiery Red Chutney smeared over it with a bowl of Chhole. The process of dressing the Kulcha with the Chutney involves a lavish use of butter over Tawa alongwith other ingredients. I had earlier done a detailed story on him here.
I tasted these buties a few months ago.
The Red Chutney on the Kulcha had a predominant garlic flavour with tomatoes, onion, ginger, red chilli and other basic spices. The butter provided the creamy moisture to the bread and the fiery Chutney was giving that sharpness of flavour. Chhole too were equally good. They had a slightly runny consistency with the basic spices and had that usual tang. Were well done and had balanced spices. The three amazing Kulchas, drenched in butter, along with that reasonably big plate of Chhole is a real delight. Kulchas are amazingly flavourful.
Here, the Kulcha is the focus.
Lotan, Chandni Chowk
Ask anyone for Lotan Chhole Wala. You would be guided towards a narrow bylane diagonally opposite to Shyam Sweets on Chawri Bazar Road. He sets up his outlet in the early hours on the floor outside a closed shop. And it takes a while to even catch a glimpse of him for he is surrounded by huge crowds.
On your turn, he digs out Chhole from a muddy water sort of concoction in a huge vessel in front of him. Once the Chhole is ladled in a paper bowl, he adds a red oily chutney, a green chutney and garnishes with ginger, coriander and green chillies. This bowl is then served with two kulchas. One spoon on the palate tells you that it is super spicy but the melt-in-mouth Chhole compliments that heat. It is a delight to savour those spicy Chhole. In fact, you need the humble Kulcha only to balance the heat. Otherwise, the bowl of Chhole itself is a treat. Then there is this muddy water in the vessel. It is Chhole Soup. You can buy that soup too, separately though. I had done a detailed story earlier on eateries in Chandni Chowk which had his details here.
Here the Fiery Red Chhole are the focus.
Famous Chhole Kulche of Mayapuri
One more #HiddenGem discovered, that’s what I thought. My God, this guy was already a celeb and I didn’t know till about few weeks ago. A small push cart run by Karan in Mayapuri, Delhi, dishes out unique Chhole Kulche. He will first shallow fry lots of chopped onions, tomatoes with spices and corriander. Then he mixes it with the boiled chickpeas. This process is then repeated for flavouring Kulchas and served along with this onion-tomato masala. What a sight !! And the flavours will ground you. A reasonably large plate of three flavourful Kulchas and Chhole. You ask him why there is no name of his outlet and he says he doesn’t need it. As per him, his videos are on YouTube and he’s on Google too. Told me that search for “famous Chhole kulche in Mayapuri” on Google Maps and it will bring you here. Amazing !! I tried and yes, he is there. How ignorant was I.
Here, the Kulcha is the focus.
Prabhu Ji, Nangal Raya
One more #HiddenGem in West Delhi : This Chhole Kulche will take you to Lotan of Old Delhi albeit minus the oily stuff. This red coloured Chhole had a thick gravy. It was first topped up with sliced onions followed by a dash of green chutney, a masala, lemon juice and chopped green coriander. Served with a typical local hot Kulcha on a dry leaf. A spoonful on the palate will gradually unfold the flavours. Finally you would understand that it gives you a spicy punch of Black Pepper and Zeera, besides others. The spice quotient lingers on for quite a while even after you are done. The Chhole in the gravy are firm yet are well cooked. Each grain is flavourfully covered with the thick gravy. You can have this from a blink-and-you-miss it kind of inconspicuous shop on Jail Road, Delhi which doesn’t even have a proper signboard. This ‘only’ offering is available for about two hours starting around 7 in the morning. Once the contents of the vessel are sold off, as per him generally in an hour, he shuts shop and goes away.
Here, the focus is on the Chhole.
Pyare Lal Ke Chhole Kulche (speciality – Bheega Kulcha)
This is another hidden gem in Subhash Nagar, West Delhi and the hero of my story today.
He has a setup (which you realise later is on a bicycle) on the pavement outside a park. He is immensely popular and could be easily verified by two facts. One, he was sorrounded by a swarm of customers that despite best efforts, couldn’t click his picture. Two, saw an elderly sikh gentleman of 83 years, sitting in Honda City and waiting for his favourite Chhole Kulche which his grandson had gone to fetch for him.
We first tasted his Chhole Kulche. His plate of Chhole Kulche comprises two home baked Kulchas stuffed with potatoes, a reasonably large bowl of dark Chhole which are neither dry nor very runny, topped up with a lavish dash of lemon juice and sliced onion. These are served with homemade vinegered Raw Mango slices and Red Onions. The Chhole are sort of melt-in-mouth which are done in a tangy curry, not very spicy. Potatoes filled baked Kulcha goes very well with it and gives you a taste of rustic Punjabi Chhole. It’s different. The Kulcha is different and the Chhole are different
Then was the turn for tasting his Speciality, the Bheega Kulcha (he proudly calls it Amritsari Pizza) is a novelty in itself. As a process, the Baked Kulcha is first drowned in the vessel full of flavourful Chhole for about two minutes. Kulcha is then taken out and placed in a plate. This is then topped with a lavish serving of Chhole, a good amount of green chutney syrup and sliced onions. The addition of green syrupy Chutney adds heat into it which hits you only when you are done with your eating. When it is served, you will be able to see a plate full of Chhole only. The Kulcha is hidden beneath. Then, you can’t decide whether to use a spoon or your hands to eat it. I tried both and finally settled for my hands. The Kulcha becomes buttery soft, yet doesn’t lose its shape. Each morsel drenched and topped with lavish amount of spicy Chhole will leave you asking for more and more. This unique Bheega Kulcha is a must try. And why only this, his combo of Chhole Kulche is unique too.
Here, both the Chhole and the Kulcha are the focus and that is why this is the hero.
I am nowhere saying that these outlets are the best, but yes, this is just a glimpse of some famous and some not so famous outlets. They certainly are celebs in their own worlds and have following of loyalists who swear by the stuff they offer. There would be many more. Do write to me if you have such unique experiences.