Capital heat is on an all time high, and we’re bored of coconut and mint-flavoured everything to beat the madding summer. But, if you step out for a Delhi food darshan, you’ll get a paan-o-ramic view of betel leaf and nut-infused deserts, drinks and even full-blown meals. Here’s more about the trend and a look at how city eateries are experimenting with it.
WHY THE FLAVOUR?
Even though the flavour is summer-perfect, it can be tricky to work with. “The leaf belongs to the Piperaceae family, which includes pepper and kava, that’s how it gets a fresh, peppery taste. Betel leaf is a natural digestive that controls blood sugar and also acts as an aphrodisiac. It’s really challenging to mix and match the flavour of the leaf as it reacts quickly on heat application, giving off a bitter taste. But, there are ingredients with which it gels nicely,” explains chef Pawan Bisht.
ON THE MENU
We have experimented with wine leaf wrapped grilled mango with kattha and fennel salsa. We also serve chicken stuffed with Benarasi paan leaves. In dessert we have French Crème brûlée with meetha paan masala dust,” says Dev, head chef at The Embassy. While pan-infused Mojitos and Martinis are appearing on the city menu, paan-infused biryani and wraps are on the offer too.
We started with a mention of Delhi summer, and thus, desserts are not an option, they are a must! “We serve a thick saffron parantha with khoya and cashew, along with a cool gulkand paan and rose swirled ice cream. The aim was to take the boredome out of traditional Indian sweets,” says Megha Agarwal, sous chef at the Junkyard Cafe. Apart from re-packaged paan kulfis, candy floss is also on offer. “Paan is considered to be an after-meal mouth freshener in its traditional format. So, we came up with a candy floss that includes a gulkand mousse filled in waffle cone and topped with paan,” says Piyush Jain, executive chef at Molecule Air Bar.