Khurja a small town, about 100 km east of Delhi is one of the hidden gems for travelers. Which has not yet been explored as a travel destination? It is in western UP, a part of the Bulandshahr district.
Now, what makes it special is the huge pottery industry that it has, with a history dating back a few centuries.
Food is one of the parameters that define a place. An important part to explore in a traveler’s itinerary. And if you look around any place, however small it may be, you will always find something special that the place has to offer. So in the town, these specialties are Khurchan and Kanji Wada.
Khurchan is a sweet but very mild one. It is made with layers of Malai and sugar and like a cake needs to be eaten with all the layers intact. Surprisingly, though made of Malai and sugar, it is neither very heavy nor very sweet. And leaves just a perfect taste in your mouth.
Kanji Wada is a variation of Kanji, a popular winter drink in north India. The Kanji is nothing but fermented water, made from Rai (mustard seeds), salt, and red chilly and at times with Heeng (asafoetida). Usually, red or black carrots are added to this water. This drink with a tangy taste is a strong appetizer and will make you feel hungry after minutes of having it. What you get in Khurja is Dal Wadas added to Kanji instead of carrots. The small Wadas are left in the water and they soak in the fermented water. It’s a sheer pleasure to put it in your mouth. You would love this dish if you have a Chatpata tooth i.e. if you like spicy street food.
While on food, if you are not a vegetarian, you may want to stop at Sikandarabad for the famous Aas Mohammad Qureshi’s biryani. He sells chicken biryani in the morning and evening. I am told that he sells at least 1000 plates a day at a price of Rs 25/- for a plate of 250 grams. Can you do a back-of-the-envelope calculation and see how much business it translates into? If you look at his infrastructure, his kitchen is the back of his house. His shop is a platform to make and serve kebabs and a pushcart.
His restaurant area is 3 wooden benches fitted on a metal frame in one row against a street wall. He has located in a not-so-clean area, almost on the road which has busy traffic. But in spite of all that within his premise, you would find relative cleanliness. The benches were cleared as soon as one set of customers finished. There was attention paid to every customer. And a huge smile on the faces of people serving. Unfortunately, being a vegetarian, I could not taste this famous delicacy. But I could read the satisfaction on the faces of my fellow travelers as they were eating the biryani.
Khurja Pottery Manufacturing Process
I look forward to making another trip to the town to see the manufacturing process and especially the painting. I would also like to talk to the people engaged in the industry as they are the major players in a ceramics ecosystem. This is my second discovery in UP after Amroha. It is such a learning experience to explore these hidden centers of excellence in the country. If you know of some more such places, please do let me know.
Recommend you read the following travel blog on places to visit in Uttar Pradesh.