Paan Shots (Betel Leaf Aperitif and Digestif)

Paan Shot
Paan Shots

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to dine at Jiggs Kalra’s Punjab Grill. I had heard quite a bit about this restaurant but this was the first time I had the opportunity to dine here.

Needless to say, the food was very good, and a mix of hearty tradition and novel innovation. I especially loved their Dal Makhani—rich, creamy and subtle as it was—and the innovative Veg Kurkuri.

Indeed, the entire meal was memorable but so filling that we could not have any dessert. 🙁 However, the disappointment at skipping the dessert was more than compensated for by the complimentary Paan Shot that was presented when we called for the check! 🙂 The spicy sweet taste of the Paan Shot was something I carried with me long after the meal ended.

Since time immemorial, Indians have used Paan or Betel Leaves in a variety of ways; the most visible being as a digestive at the end of a meal. In South India, when eaten at home, a betel leaf is wrapped around a pinch of Chunnam/Chunna (slaked lime) and some areca nut pieces. Sometimes, a clove or green cardamom is also used.

Meetha Paan or Sweet Paan that children favour had a generous dose of Gulkhand (Rose Petal Jam).

There are oh-so-many-ways to eat paan! In fact, Paan is so popular in India that you will find a Panwari or Pan Wala (a person who makes different kinds of Paan) at many a street corner.

Coming back to Punjab Grill, the Paan Shot they served was their take on this hoary Indian tradition and what an interpretation it was.

Here is one way to make a Paan Shot that I found on the Net and the results of which I quite liked!

Serves: 4

Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Fresh Paan or Betel Leaves – 10
  2. Saunf or Fennel Seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Elaichi or Green Cardamom – 4
  4. Gulkhand or Rose Petal Jam – 1 tbsp
  5. Cold Milk – 3/4 Cup

Method

  1. Wash the betel leaves and chop/tear them into large pieces.
  2. Peel the cardamom pods and discard the peel.
  3. Roughly crush the saunf and cardamom seeds into a coarse powder.
  4. Grind the betel leaves and gulkhand along with the saunf-elaichi powder into a coarse paste.
  5. Add the milk and blend.
  6. Serve chilled in shot glasses.
Paan Shots
Paan Shots

For another innovative use of Betel Leaves, try this wonderful betel leaf salad.

15 thoughts on “Paan Shots (Betel Leaf Aperitif and Digestif)

  1. OMG. Ok I have the funniest story to share with you. When I was in India, my friend and I passed by a paan wallah. My friend said oh you should try this. I was like ok, but I don't think I am going to like it. Well, he bought one and told me to put it in my mouth and chew. I did. Saliva immediately started just pouring from my mouth. It got all over my mouth and all over my clothes. I didn't want to spit it out right in front of the wallah, so I just stood there in shock with this horrible thing in my mouth. I think after about 5 minutes of this horrible look on my face and now covered in paan juice, my friend frantically reached in my mouth and dug it out. I will never ever again put any type of paan in my mouth. =)

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