Fresh, light, puffy, crunchy, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth delicious—a luchi is a divine experience. For a Bengali—child, teen, or aged—luchis are the epitome of Sunday breakfasts. Fried little pieces of heaven which come to your plate piping-hot, deflate them to let the steam escape as you use your hands in a deft motion to tear a tiny piece. A luchi breakfast is never complete without the sada alu torkari that is the accompaniment in its own right. Scoop some of the simple white potato curry cooked with nigella seeds in the small piece of luchi, put the morsel into your mouth, and sigh in joy. Such a treat!
I’d never enjoyed luchis while growing up. While the family loved eggs and muesli for breakfast to sustain a work week, Sundays were reserved for the Bengali feast. My mother would make the dough in the morning with maida (flour) and let it rest for a bit. Sometimes, instead of only using flour, she would add a bit of wheat or atta to the dough to make it more north Indian puri-like. The texture would be less flaky but tasted just as delicious. The dough is then divided into little balls, each then rolled out into circular sizes. The oil in the deep-bowled kadhai has to be heated slowly till, to test, a small coriander leaf starts crackling when inserted. You know then, the oil is ready to receive the raw luchis. Slowly dip one luchi one at a time in the hot wok, let it bathe gently and before you know, it will start to rise, puff up till it reaches its limitations. Take each out, drain the excess oil (or not), and serve on a plate. It is now ready to be eaten. As i grow old, my fondness for luchis grows and these days, everytime I go home, it's the first thing my mother makes.
For the layman, luchis are to Bengalis as puris are to other communities. The deep-fried breads have to be eaten hot because that’s where the true taste lies. My sister on the other hand loves cold, flat luchis. In my mind, that is strange but hey, each to their own. Luchis, according to my personal taste, goes best with the white potato curry where only nigella seeds and salt does its trick. But, curries like chicken, prawn and mutton are equally enjoyed with these hot delicacies. And when in Bengal, how can sweet dishes be forgotten, right? Gur and luchi is a combination made in heaven. I have friends and family swear by gur-luchi breakfasts in the winter.
Unlike other flatbreads, like puri, kachoris or kulchas, luchi isn't really available easily streetside. And even if you come across a seller selling luchis, they aren't really the stuff one gets to enjoy at home. My recommendation would be to make friends with someone in whose house luchis are made! A long ask I know but it's worth the effort as you bite into the fluffy and flaky flatbread on a Sunday morning.