Paan is a preparation which combines various ingredients all wrapped up in a betel leaf. It has been an integral part of Indian (South East Asian) cultures for centuries, eaten at the end of a meal and believed to help with digestion. There is a whole host of varieties available for the hard core connoisseurs; Ram Pyaari, Meenakshi, Lal Pari, Kasturi, Surabhi, Mohini, Calcutta are just a few of them. A Paanwala is the master craftsman who uses his skills to create the most perfectly delectable paans. Its a niche skill, really.
Our Sunday family ritual growing up was a heavy lunch, usually Mangshor Jhol and Bhaath (Mutton Curry and Rice) followed by my dad treating us all to some paan and chocolates. Calcutta Ram Pyaari for them and Chocolates for my sister and me, which slowly turned into a delicious Meetha Pan. One summer my cousins were visiting and we followed the usual ritual. The kids chose to have a lollipops. While I was slowly enjoying my lollipop, my cousin, who is just 2 years younger to me, finished his in one bite and started to eye mine. He watched for a minute or so and then in one swift motion snatched my lollipop and quickly gulped it down. Typical boy!! To get me to stop crying my dad bribed me with a meetha (sweet) paan.. and thats how my love for paan began.
Its nearly impossible to find good paan in US, even in Bay Area where you get everything Indian. So a few weeks back I decided to attempt in making some on my own. The main ingredients of a meetha paan are Betel Leaf, Gulkand (Rose petal preserve), Kharek (Dried Dates), roasted fennel seeds, cardamon powder, coconut powder and lime paste. I set out to find the ingredients. All ingredients are very easy to find in any Indian stores, unless your really particular like me, then you just make your own Gulkand at home. I ordered the betel leaves from Amazon, big mistake because by the time they reached me they were moldy and rotting, California heat! So I decided to beat the heat with some ice cream instead, paan flavored ice cream.
Time for Prep: 20 mins Time to freeze: 12 hours Yield: 8 Servings Level: Easy
- 2 cups milk, chilled
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Gulkand (Rose petal preserve)
- 6-8 Dates- soaked, peeled and chopped (Kharek)
- 1 tbsp roasted fennel seeds, corse powder
- pinch of Cardamon powder
- 1 tbsp Coconut powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp betel leaf juice
- 1/2 tsp menthol (optional)
Process if using an ice cream machine:
- Mix all ingredients and follow instructions by the manufacturing company.
Process if Not using an ice cream machine:
- Whip the heavy cream till you get soft peaks, slowly add the sugar and continue whipping. Mix the milk in and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
- Mix the paan flavoring- Gulkand, chopped dates, cardamon powder, coconut powder, lemon juice, betel leaf juice fennel seeds. Mix this into chilled cream mixture from step1.
- Transfer to a shallow container and freeze.
- Take it out in a couple hours or after the mixture gets slushy. Whip or blend it and freeze again. Follow this step a couple times to get a very smooth ice cream.
Scoop and serve. You can garnish it with a pinch of saffron to give it some extra kick.
Best served on a betel leaf, just don’t order them online.
- The Milk and cream has to be chilled before you add lemon juice to avoid it from curdling.
- If you do not want to whip in between freezing, then replace milk with a 10 oz can of condensed milk and skip the sugar completely.