Chai with Milk Cake is my Old Delhi equivalent of Espresso and Biscotti; a fast, sugary shot in the arm when energy levels are low. If I’m ever at the Fatehpuri end of Chandni Chowk and in need of a quick pick-me-up, I dive straight into Kucha Ghasi Ram and head for Hemchand Ladli Prashad’s lovely little tea stall.
For over 80 years, the Prashad family have been making fabulously frothy chai and Milk Cake in a quiet little gully close to the Bhairav Mandir (also worth a look). The other day, mindful of this year’s mission slipping past me, I asked Anoop Gupta, grandson of Hemchand and the man in charge these days, to talk me through the cooking process.
Simplicity itself, as it turned out – as long as you have giant pots and strong wrists. First take 12 litres of milk and mix with a kilo of sugar. Boil, stirring constantly for one and a half hours.
Eventually, the mixture will become granular and caramellised. It is then poured into a round cake tin which is put on top of a kettle to steam and set.
Great news for my reckless promise to make at home everything I eat on the street – I was delighted to realise I had already made Milk cake, albeit accidentally. While I was experimenting with recipes for Shahi Tukda I reduced the milk a little bit too enthusiastically and ended up with what I now know to be Milk Cake. So that’s another one ticked off, just the small matter of finding time to rustle up Bedmi Aloo, Jalebis, Paranthe, Kulfi Falooda, Aloo Tikki…..and everything else I’ve been gorging on recently!
To find Hemchand Ladli Prashad’s tea stall, go into Kucha Ghasi Ram (the last gully on the right side of Chandni Chowk if you’re facing Fatehpuri Mosque) and walk as far as the T-junction with Bhairav Mandir on the left. Turn left and and the shop is a few yards along on the right. Open every day from 8am to 8pm. Twenty rupees for enough Milk Cake to restore va va voom!