A little-known milk sweet that is perhaps one of the greatest finds of North India is the delicious khurchan. Traditional sweetmakers have been churning out this innovative dessert since centuries. It is unclear who created this dish first, but, locals of Khurja take pride in their version of khurchan that is deemed to be nothing short of exceptional.
Khurchan is derived from the Hindi word खुरचन (khuracana) that means scrape and this dessert is literally made from the leftover scrapings of milk. Khurchan is essentially made from milk cream, has a slightly sticky and gooey texture and is mildly sweet.
First, large quantities of full-fat buffalo milk are boiled in kadais on wood fire or coal fire. As it begins to boil and thicken, a thin twig is used to gently pull out part of the top layer of the thickened milk. This creamy layer is pushed to the side and slowly placed in a tray. This process is repeated till almost all the milk has evaporated.
The layers are slapped one on top of the other varying slightly in consistency, thickness and texture. Bura sugar is mixed into the remainder of the milk mixture and slowly scooped into a part of the milk layers and folded in. This process is repeated till all the milk layers are filled with this sweet mixture. They are placed on top of each other and garnished with a silver foil and chopped pistachios.
Some sweetmakers prefer to sprinkle bura sugar in between the layers to reduce the sweetness of the dessert. This unique sweet is very interesting to bite into – the top layer is slightly crisp while the bottom layers are remarkably soft. The sweet filling is very light and the bura sugar makes the khurchan soft and moist.
This sweet is extremely difficult to make and is not only tedious but also labour-intensive. One gets about 1 kg of khurchan from about 7 litres of milk. This layered sweet makes its appearance at the beginning of the auspicious month of Shravan.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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