I love paan. For anyone out there who doesn’t know what paan is, it’s a combination of various mouth fresheners that come wrapped in pungent betel leaves. It has the most amazing things like gulkand, supari or betel nut, lime slake paste, sometimes even dry fruits, etc. It’s commonly eaten with tobacco, but comes in no-tobacco versions as well. The most common versions (non-tobacco, of course) are mitha paan, magai jodi, kalkatta paan, etc.
As usual, most of my food memories are associated with childhood. So is this! As a child, I developed the taste for paan. Amma tells me that when she was expecting me, it was all she could do to stop eating paan from my grandfather’s study. And, that seems to have favoured my palate. In Salalah, paan was banned, but there was this one Pakistani guy who would sell it quietly, and we were regulars there. Mumbai, on the other hand, has no kind of ban (its evident, no? what with all the stains on the road, in the stations and god alone knows where else!) Here, you get paan around every corner!
Anyway, this post is all about my review of chocolate paan — a discovery that my friends and I had made some years ago. And, while I’ve tried it out at quite a few places, this particular one at Juhu Chowpatti takes the cake. For those of you who know it well, there’s this paanshop called PaanBhandar in the third lane from the right at Juhu beach. It’s the third or fourth shop in the row and is manned by a guy with curly hair and striking blue eyes! You can’t miss it!
This is where you get awesome chocolate paan. They are so huge that the guy needs to actually feed you half of it. What he puts in is the regular stuff and then adds chopped dark chocolate topped with Hershey’s chocolate sauce and crushed ice (of course, on your request) and serves it to you. You’d swoon with the melting chocolate in your mouth, combined with the pungent taste of the leaves.
And, believe me, this is what you feel! A scene from the animated movie, Ratatouille, which I can so relate to!
Go try it out and tell me what you feel!