A concoction of ingredients and spices rolled up in a betel leaf is what best defines a traditional mouth freshener like paan. Paan patrons have even welcomed the westernised versions of the quintessential desi offering to help revive its lost charm. Even though the popularity of paans may be decreasing, the introduction of interesting new varieties has helped hold on to the legacy. We take you through the different types, so that you know exactly which one to ask for when you are at that paan shop right down the lane.
1. Saada paan/ paan masala: This paan is famous for the freshness it provides. The flavour of mint and the strong taste of spices, like cardamom along with areca nuts, are preferred by the older generation who mean business and like the real unadulterated stuff.
2. Flavoured paan: The modern day variation of this age-old delicacy resulted in the addition of fruit syrups, chocolate pieces and even flavoured gulkand. This unique mix of flavours has been quite appreciated by those who are looking for variety in everything. The chocolate flavoured paan is much preferred by women and children alike.
3. Meetha paan: A drizzle of gulkand, a hint of mint along with some saunf and glazed cherries creates this variety. It is wide preferred since very few people dislike anything sweet.
4. Varnasi specialities: Maghai paan and Jagannath paan are two specialities from Varanasi. They act as taste changers if taken after heavy meals and are made with a unique mix of nuts, clove, rose petals and gulkand. You can also customize them to suit your taste buds.
5. Bengali specials: Originating from the west are paan varieties like Deshi mahoba, Chahi Paan, Bangla Pan, Calcutta paan and Misti Paan. They are infused with different ingredients and spices to create a great mix of flavours. Fennel seed, glazed cherries, elaichi dana, gulkand and sauf are some key ingredients.
6. Benarasi specialities: Banarasi mint paan and meetha banarasi paan are specials from the city of Varanasi. A blend of rose petals, coconut and mint grated with gulkand and dry dates, and rolled up in betel leaves will leave you asking for more.
7. Lucknowi paan: Paan lovers are in for a treat with this huge cone-shaped paan that comprises exquisite ingredients offering deliciousness that represents the royal taste of Lucknow . This nawabi specialty is famous for its richness in dry fruits mixed with gulkand rolled up in betel leaf.