‘Chajju’s Amritsari Kulchas’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

I remember my father, on coming home from his tours, used to used to often say ‘Jo sukh Chhajju de chubarey oh balkh na bukharey’  (The satisfaction that one gets at home is unmatched).

A little about ‘Balkh’ and ‘Bukhara’ before one moves further. These were considered to be two great towns during the ‘Silk Road’ days. Balkh, near the town of Mazar-E-Sharif,  was a centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Marco Polo described Balkh as a “noble and great city”.

Bukhara is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan.  Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The historic center of Bukhara, which contains about 140 monuments, mosques, madrassas etc., has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Back to present. Whenever I come back from my not too infrequent travels, my sister and brother- in- law tease me saying ‘Ah, so Chajju is back to his chaubara.’

Another change of time and place. My birthday falls on April 21st. So some of my friends asked me on the 22nd April, as to how did I celebrate my birthday this year?

Well, it was like any other day for me in except that I did get a number of phone calls from my friends and relatives in the morning. Then I went to do my fortnightly provision shopping. By the time I finished it it was around 1 pm. I was hungry and thirsty.

On  driving back I saw a board ‘Chajju’s Amritsari Kulchas’ and I went over to that little shop in Sector 9 of Panchkula.

After placing my order for an aloo kulcha, I asked Sandip, the young owner of this restaurant on why the name “Chajju’ and who was ‘Chajju’. He explained that ‘Chajju’ was his grand father who used to run an eating joint in Lahore and that after partition they started ‘chajju’s restaurant in Amritsar. Is it still there, I asked. Yes Sirji, he said and added that it is on Lawrence Road but it serves only non -veg food.

One view is that Chajju was a real person who lived in Lahore during the reign of the Mughal kings Jahangir and Shahjahan and his house  was located on Anarkali Road in Old Lahore, south of Rattan Chand Serai.

Lawrence Road Amritsar’s Chajju non-veg shop- here I come.

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It was served with a blob of butter on the top.

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I caringly spread the butter to cover most of the kulcha and then started the assault.

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And soon that ‘kulcha’ was history!

Photos, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

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