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!
Time: 10 Minutes
- Fresh Paan or Betel Leaves – 10
- Saunf or Fennel Seeds – 1 tsp
- Elaichi or Green Cardamom – 4
- Gulkhand or Rose Petal Jam – 1 tbsp
- Cold Milk – 3/4 Cup
- Wash the betel leaves and chop/tear them into large pieces.
- Peel the cardamom pods and discard the peel.
- Roughly crush the saunf and cardamom seeds into a coarse powder.
- Grind the betel leaves and gulkhand along with the saunf-elaichi powder into a coarse paste.
- Add the milk and blend.
- Serve chilled in shot glasses.
For another innovative use of Betel Leaves, try this wonderful betel leaf salad.