“Khayke Paan Banaras Wala khul jaye band akal ka taala”, who can forget Amitabh Bachchan’s song from the movie Don. Yes, if you are in Varanasi, Banarasi paan is a must try. It is undoubtedly the most popular variety of Paan in India. Each and every gali (road) has its own Banarasi Paan shop where one can feel the ancient tradition of serving Paan.
History of paan goes back to nearly 2500 years ago. It is said that Queen Noor Jahan discovered that adding certain ingredients in the Paan leaf (betel leaf) and eating it gives natural red colour to her lips. Even today many women get a Paan from Banarasi Paan wala to substitute it with lipstick.
Why Paan eater loves Banarasi Paan?
The popularity of Banarasi Paan lies in the smooth texture of the leaves which is of pale yellowish green colour. Go to any Banarasi Paan wala in Varanasi and try it, you will feel the softness of leaves which melts in the mouth. It tastes less bitter than Calcutta paan or the other varieties available in India. Here paan wala will always put the ingredients inside the paan in front of you. You can never get a stale Paan here. Even while serving they follow the Nawabi style- with the left hand touching the elbow of the right hand to serve.
What is inside a Banarasi Paan
Like all the other varieties of Paan popular in India, Banarasi Paan is stuffed with Katha (Catechu), Chuna (Pickeling lime), supari (Arcea nut) and choice of your filling of tobacco or Masala. But a Banarasi Paan Wala does hard labour before serving you their special Paan. Handmade Katha is the specialty here. Katha is dipped into water and milk for several days which is then it boiled and dried. This process makes the colour brighter. A similar process is followed to pickle the Chuna (limestones) which removes the heat from the Chuna.
Ingredients of the most popular Meetha (Sweet) Paan
- Paan leaves
- Saunf (Fennel)
- Supari with silver warq
- Sugar coated colours
- Tiny amount of Nutmeg powder
- Clove powder
- Cinnamon Powder
- Grated dry coconut
- Tutti Fruity
- Dry dates
Popular Paan Shop
If you are in Varanasi you can freshen up your mouth by trying the Paan at Ramchandra Chaurasia Tambul Bhandar at Chowk, Keshav Paan Bhandar at Lanka, Banaras Paan Store at Prahlad Gate or Gopalji Paan Wala, Bhelupur. These stores are also famous for their variety of innovative Paans.
5 Types of Banarasi Paan you must try when you are in Varanasi
- Chocolate Paan
- Ice Cream Paan
- Banarasi Navratan Paan
- Kesar mix Paan
- Hajma Paachak Paan
So take a dip in river Ganga at Varanasi Ghat, enjoy the Kachori and jalebi and digest all with a meetha paan.