The famous street food of Jammu, Kalari Kulcha can be seen in the menu list of road side vendors and the big eateries as well.
It is the snack of hills of Jammu
Found in Jammu only, Kalari is an authentic Dogra cheese. It was originated in the Ramnagar area of Udhampur District and is loved by almost all the foodies of Jammu.
Origin of Kalari Kulcha
Folklore says that Singh Restaurant in Udhampur started serving Kalari with Kulchas (buns) resulting in popularity of this snack.
Trust us, there is nothing better than Kalari Kulcha and a cup of tea that can be eaten in Jammu during a rainy evening.
It is a very dense cheese that is usually sautéd in its own fat and salted while serving. Kalaris are usually made from cow’s or buffalo’s milk, though kalaris made from goat’s milk are also available, and have a whitish color.Traditionally Kalaris are made from raw (uncooked) full fat milk that is separated using soured milk. The solidified part is packed in doonas (small bowls made of leaves) and sun dried. The excess liquid drips down from the semi-porous doonas and rest of the moisture is lost by sun drying. As the ambient temperature is low and the sun is strong in the mountains, the Kalari becomes dry from outside yet retains moisture from inside. Some times fungus grows on this and gives it a unique flavor. The taste of kalari prepared in the three regions of the state is different from each other.
Today, the main ingredient for making cheese – milk – is still available in plenty thanks to pastoralists like Gujjars and Bakarwals. They are the nomadic shepherds who move their herds of dairy cattle and their own settlements up and down the mountains based on the changing seasons.
How to cook it at home?
Kaladi is mostly eaten as snack by frying in its own fat and salted before eating. On frying, it just melt like mozzarella cheese on pizza and it hardens on cooling. It is then served with buns or bread. The well cooked Kaladi has a brownish crispy layer outside but from inside it is very soft, creamy and gooey cheese. The flavour and aroma of kalari is just irresistible. Writing about it only fills my mouth with water !!
Only experts can cook it
It sounds easy but preparing Kaladi is an art which requires some expertise. You might take a couple of trials before mastering how to cook this local delicacy from the hills of Jammu and Kashmir. If you are an ameteur, there are high chances that you ruin your Kalari while cooking it.
Some people also use butter or ghee for making it more viscous and for making it proper crispy.
But the recent improvisation is the one in which it is made like a burger with Kalari as the patty in layers of coleslaw like salad, tomatoes, etc. filled up in a bun.
Improvisation in its preparation
Kalari sandwich has also came into existence in which it is placed in between two slices of bakery bread with complete sandwich shallow fried in the pan containing left over fat from frying the kalari. Eating this with tamarind chutney is real pleasure.
Kalaris are mostly produced in the remote hills of Jammu but you don’t have to go that far to buy it. It is available at any milk shop for Rs 10-15 per piece.
While these burgers and sandwiches cost between Rs 50 to 100, a full plate of simple Kaladi-Kulcha, the absolute love of Jammuites and it is available at almost all the stalls of Jammu cost Rs 40 or Rs 50 maximum.
How to prepare it at home
To prepare Kaladi at home, heat milk for a little while to get it as lukewarm and pour the remains of split milk known as ‘Mathar’ into the milk. The milk is split and out of the released fat small tikkis are prepared manually. These tikkis are kalaris which are laid over pine leaves and carefully kept in a basket to dry up and ripe in sunlight.
Best Kalari-Kulcha places in Jammu
Despite being one of the hot selling food item that you can never get outside Jammu, Kaladi hasn’t got its fair share of popularity. But following are the places where you can get the best Kalari Kulcha in Jammu:
Among the best places to try this unique cheese in Jammu is the Singh Cafetaria at Udhampur’s Gol Market (famous for its roasted Kalaris) and the 20-year-old shop run by Sham Lal at Dharamthal, which sells almost 3 quintals of Kalari every day !
Pahalwan’s: Pahalwan is a legendary shop in Jammu which sells yummy Kaladi Burger. While most of the shops which sells Kaladi-Kulcha cooks it when you order it. Pahalwah’s sell already made Burgers which are easy to grab. It is almost like the other burger but here the patty is replaced by a piece of Kaladi and that is what makes it different.
Two brother’s at Moti Bazar: This small shop is situated near the Parade matador stop and it is probably the best Kaladi Kulcha halt in Jammu. These two brother make the best Kaladi Kulcha in Jammu. The due open the shop at around 4 in the evening and most of the time people are already waiting it to open so that they can grab a bite of this most delicious food item.
Dogra Chat House: This shop is situated in the lane at the backside of Apsara (now Kapsons) in Gandhi Nagar. It is famous for the special mint chutney it serves with the Kulcha.
Also, you can eat it at almost every food stall or eatery you find in Jammu.
Tempted Enough !! Stop everything and go grab a bite of this authentic snack of Jammu.