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Paan numbers

india Updated: Jun 19, 2010 00:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Say you were a smoker — or a ‘social puffer’, if you like to call yourself that. Would you, for the sake of novelty, put to your lips a cigarette that looked like mud and smelt of gulkand?

Given that the smell of tobacco mixed with saffron paste, silver leaves and aromatic spices would overpower your judgement, chances are you would. Curiosity, more than temptation, will make you take that drag.

Now here’s the thing about paan cigarettes (PC) — available at Mishra Pan Corner at PVR Anupam, Saket. They’ve got novelty going for them. Some might call PCs an acquired taste, but choking shouldn’t have to take getting used to.

When freshly concocted — that is, smothered with something known to connoisseurs as ‘Nabbai number paste’, and to the rest as Baba No. 90 — they taste sweet, like those clove-scented cigarillos. The not so good bit it that one drag is enough. They light up like agarbattis and you need to dim the fire by fanning madly. The Diwali-like smoke apart, these things are great conversation generators.

But if queer-smelling cigarette smoke is not up your alley, you can bite into some paan-flavoured kulfi. It’s rich, sugary and green — not spinach-green, but lighter. The aftertaste is fresh, the product is cheap, and if you’re in a mall such as the new Food Chowk DLF Place, Saket you get to slurp away in an air-conditioned environment. If you are conventional and craving a good ol’ fashioned beetle leaf, the food court in the mall has that, too. The right shop is Prince Paan in the Food Chowk. Is it ‘urbanised’ and sanitised? Check.

If the city’s got down to paan eats and paan smokes, how far behind can paan drinks be? Look no further than DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj.

True to their reputation, Marut Sikka and wife Anusiya (of the Magique restaurant fame), offer, at their latest outing, Keya Kainoosh, a divine paan cocktail. Of course, given the fancy-shmancy interiors and club-feel, the divinity won’t be named anything as pedestrian as plain paan cocktail, and so you have ‘Keya Magic’. At Rs 450, excluding taxes, the Sambuca, lemon, paan leaf and gulkand muddle is easier to injest than the agarbati smoke of Mishra Pan Corner, but you’re going to have to try them both to know better.

1) Paan cigarettes: Rs 20 a piece at Mishra Pan Corner, PVR saket
2) Paan kulfi: Rs 30, at Kings Kulfi, Food Chowk, DLF Place, Saket
3) Paan cocktail: Rs 450, at Keya Kainoosh, DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj