The finest paan of India is the celebrated Banarasi paan prepared in the world-famous Keshav Tambul Bhandar in the ancient city of Kashi. This paan has been loved by visitors from all over for years. Even heads of state including Prime Minister Narendra Modi have sampled their renowned meetha paan.
Interestingly, all the ingredients to prepare the paan are sourced from various locations outside Banaras. The actual preparation of the various items (like gulab ka gulkand, nauratan chutney, meethe paan masala, kimam, kattha and others) is a closely guarded secret. One can only guess how the delicious masalas and gulkand have been prepared in the traditional way.
For the meetha paan, the betel leaf (either Magahi Paan or Mahoba Desawari Paan) that has been previously washed and cleaned thoroughly is taken out from under a cloth. Kattha is spread evenly on the leaf followed by a dash of chuna (that comes from Madhya Pradesh), a little meetha supari (that comes from Assam), a sprinkling of the special meethe paan masala that is prepared using age-old methods, a generous portion of gulab ka gulkand and finally a touch of nauratan chutney. The meetha paan is then folded in the typical manner and served.
The trick behind eating paan is that it should not be chewed but instead placed in the side of the mouth to enjoy the refreshing rasa (juice).
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian