Paan is the traditional mouth freshener in India. Eating paan after-dinner treat that consists of a betel leaf filled with chopped betel (areca) nut (Areca catechu) and slaked lime (chuna), to which assorted other ingredients, including red katha paste (made from the khair tree), may be added. It is served folded into a triangle or rolled, and it is spat out or swallowed after being chewed.
Traditionally consumed as a mouth freshener and even as a digestive aid, paan is a pop of flavourful and fragrant ingredients wrapped in a fresh green betel leaf. Kattha (cachou), chuna (diluted limestone paste), saunf (fennel), gulkand (sweetened and mashed rose petals), elaichi (cardamom) are some common fillings. There are several general types of paan, including meetha (sweet) and tambaku (tobacco). Flavored paan has become popular nowadays in India, with endless flavors of ice cream, including mango, cola, pineapple, strawberry, and chocolate, and many more.
The betel leaf comes from the Piper betel, a vine of Southeast Asian origin. Chewing on betel leaves seems to be an ancient practice with skulls dating back to 3000 BC from the Philippines showing stained red teeth! The red color, by the way, comes from lining the betel leaf with slacked lime (chuna), which releases an alkaloid that brings the color on chewing.
In India, the paan culture seems to have caught on in south India first and the betel leaf is regarded as a symbol of both prosperity and hospitality. In the northern Indian Buddhist literature of 400 BC, the leaf is frequently mentioned as one of the items given to monks at monasteries as part of their daily food allowance.
To enjoy this mainstay at Indian social gatherings, stuff the entire, triangular parcel in your mouth. It starts releasing the powerful medley of sweet herbs and spices. It is stomach soothed, sweet tooth satisfied and breath fresher. A small pop of flavors, fragrance, and good health, the traditional paan is being creatively played with, in manners that are refreshing to the eyes and the palate.
The paan patta is said to have components that can reduce the level of sugar in the blood, thus helping in treating diabetes. It is also believed to aid weight loss by working on cutting body fat. Chewing betel leaves in moderation also prevents oral cancer by maintaining the levels of ascorbic acid in the saliva. In ancient times, people would also cure wounds by using the leaves for bandages.
In India, betel leaf plays an important role since ancient culture. As per ancient books of Ayurveda tells the importance and the practice of chewing betel leaves after meals are common. The trend of paan is still there with some new fusion and flavor. It is most popular in Varanasi. Banarsi Paan is famous all over the world.
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There are a wide variety of paan available
It is a very famous and common paan which can be eaten by anyone. The specialty of sada paan in Banaras is that it is full of sweet gems only. The name given to the paan is enough to tell that it is plain and there is no supari.
It is mainly for those who chew tobacco. It has areca nut, slaked lime, catechu, tobacco, and other flavoring agents such as menthol, camphor, mint, and rosewater. It most common in rural areas and chewed by older age men.
It is a very popular paan that is coated with lots of chocolate with fennel seeds, cherries elaichi, gulkand, coconut, and sugar-coated sauf. It is wrapped in betel leaf and then covered with melted chocolate and frozen until set. It is enjoyed after dinner as mouth-freshener or it can be served as a dessert.
It is very popular and demanded paan variety. It has fresh paan leaf filled with jelly, gulkand, coconut, sauf, dry fruits, elaichi, and topped with a glazed cherry. It gives the amazing and refreshing taste to the mouth with a sweet flavor.
It is popular in Varanasi and Lucknow. Kimam is basically liquid tobacco which is mixed with dry leaves of tobacco. Betel leaf is topped with other ingredients with menthol and few drops of kimam.