Saturday, August 6, 2011

Anatomy of a Sweet or Meetha Paan !

As per Wikipedia - Paan, or pān is an Southeast Asian tradition of chewing betel leaf with Supari (or Areca Nut) and lime paste, and katha (or kaatha) brown powder paste, with many regional and local variations. Paan is normally chewed as a palate cleanser, a breath freshener, and has been found useful for digestive purposes.  

Paan is a symbolic end of meal intake at most food events & ceremonies in India and southeast Asia. Paan is prepared in various ways like plain (or sada), sweet or (Meetha) paan, where sugar, candied fruit and multicolored, sweetened, candy-like fennel seeds are used. Another very important ingredients of Pan is Gulkand, a weekend flavorful preserve made from rose petals. You can check the Recipe shared at MyCreativeFlavors here.

Today we will make my fvt version "Meetha or Sweet Paan". As you'd see I've not used strict ingredients like lime paste/katha/meethi chutney - but we would use many interesting & commonly available ingredients to prepare our Paan.

Paan leaves are easily available in most Indian Grocery stores, if not - you can find them at a Paan Corner at the nearest India Street in your town. I Picked up a Pack of 6 leaves for $3 only at my recent visit to Jersey City :)

Ingredients: -
(Makes 4 Meetha Paans)
4 Pan Leaves
Gulkand or Rose preserve - 4 Tsp
Areca nut or Supari Mix - 4 Tsp
Dry Roasted Fennel seeds or Saunf - 4 Tsp
Coconut Powder - 2 Tsp
Honey - 1 Tsp
Golden Raisins - 8
Cloves - 4
Cardamom Pods - 4

Method: -
Thoroughly wash the Paan leaf under running water & turn it upside down on a flat surface.
Slightly trim the leaf at the end to ensure that only soft part is used & Paan can be sealed easily later.
As we are not using lime paste or meethi chutney we will use a few drops of honey & spread around.

Now add 1 tsp of roasted fennel seeds (you can roast normal fennel seeds on your griddle at low heat for 5-6 minutes, helps develop the flavors).  Add 1 caradamom pod, a couple of raisins & 1 tsp of supari mix.

Evenly Spread 1/2 Tsp of coconut powder at top of all the ingredients.

Now the best bit,
Drop a liberal dose of Gulkand in the middle (at least 1 Tsp).
Yumm.. Yumm... I ate 2 Tsps in the process, he he... never mind !!!
We will start assembling our Paan now.
As shown below lift one end of the leaf & fold it towards center of the leaf.
Now lift the opposite end & bring it on top of previous fold , press with a finger as you bring the third end.
Once you have all the ends neatly folded we would have a triangular shape.
Time to seal the deal with a clove in the middle.

There are many ways of closing the leaf, professionals roll it , twist it,  bend it.....
But this is the way I do it at home.

Feel free to play with the ingredients, I normally add a double shot of Gulkand & some extra fennel.

Now wait to finish your dinner, and as soon as you are done,
Have a glass of water, Open your mouth wide, and Slide in the Beauty, start Chewing !!!!!!
As lovely as the process of eating it is - as described above :)
You can feel the juices flow & flavors burst in your mouth,
Your Palate feels refreshed & reverberating with freshness of flavors..

No other food can give you this experience that Paan gives you.
If you make it ahead of your dinner make sure to keep it refrigerated.
This Royal treat is surely gonna make your day.

Take Care & Enjoy
Hugs... Sonia

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