Valentine Aphrodisiac Dessert - Paan
It’s the Valentine season. There’s love all around. There are flowers, chocolates, diamonds, and of course, candle-lit dinners…and what better way to round off a romantic meal than a HEART-SHAPED PAAN!
Paan In Indian Culture
Paan is the Hindi for betel-leaf. It is an integral part of the Indian culture. In fact, if we were to take out one leaf from the Indian tradition, it would surely be the PAAN!
Lord Krishna (well, we know of his popularity among the ‘gopis’) ate paan 5000 yrs ago.
Lord Shiva is described as having a beautiful face adorned with paan-stained lips.
Early Sanskrit text mentions paan among the eight enjoyments of life. Certain Hindu sections actually place it in the mouth of a corpse- a dead man’s last opportunity for worldly pleasure.
Vatsyayana, the author of Kamasutra, included the betel leaf in the solah singar or the sixteen adornments.
- We all know of Shahjahan, the mughal emperor who built the greatest symbol of love, the Taj Mahal (First in the list of the Seven Wonders of the World). His step-mother, Noorjahan, popularized paan eating among women. They used it as a lipstick supplement to enhance the redness of their lips.
Paan is :-
- A blood purifier
- Has strong digestive properties
- Is an oral deodorant.
- It also has erotic effects, and if you want to get a little adventurous with your Valentine, your paanwala could weave the same magic as in the days of the Kamasutra where it is recommended as an aphrodisiac.
How To Make A Paan
- The paanwala takes a tender, water soaked betel leaf. The spine of the leaf is broken because during rains, water collects in it. It is believed that sometimes snakes drink water from the betel-leaf spine!
- The top and the bottom are cut about half a centimeter.
- He applies a bit of slaked lime paste.
- Then, he applies kattha, generously, mixing it well with his fingertip. Kathha is a reddish-brown solution from the bark of the tree Acacia catechu. Kathha causes the redness of the mouth.
- The paanwala will then add all or most of the following condiments/spices/herbs/flavours: Belgaum, Laxmi chura, Gulab chutney, Elaichi or Cardamom officially the Queen of all spices, Green gold chutney, Kashmiri sugandh, Mukh bilas, Dilbahar chutney, Honey, Lime, Mint, Camphor, Flower extracts.
- Gulkand or Rose paste-makes the paan sweet.
- Roasted fennel seeds-libido enhancer since the days of the Egyptians.
- A Dusting of gold powder, Nutmeg, Anise seed-used as an aphrodisiac since the Greeks and the Romans, Kharik, Munakka, Gumchi or Hari Patti (Licorice), Turmeric infused Khopra (Grated Coconut), Badam (Almond) Powder, Kaju (Cashew) Powder, Pista (Pistachio) Powder, Cherry, Special Salli Supari (Areca nut)-is a stimulant and promotes salivation, Gulab (Rose) Powder.
Folding The Paan
The paan is finally folded into a triangle, as neatly as possible, and nailed together with a clove. This in itself is an art. Believe it or not, paan folding competitions were held in ancient India! It could then be coated with a ‘chandi ka varak’ (edible beaten silver). The finished form is called a beeda. In Maharashtra, there is a custom where the bride holds the beeda in her mouth and the groom has to bite a portion off it. The act is considered a pledge of honour and love that seals their relationship for life.
- Once you start chewing the paan, you’ll instanly feel the sweet juices burst into your mouth. It’s a tantalizing mix of flavours and textures.
- The first taste is of the rose paste-very sweet. The ingredients are crunchy. It’s like twigs and gooey gel wrapped in a leaf.
- Once the sweetness subsides one can begin to taste the refreshing cardamom, the peppery betel leaf, the biting clove, the tangy flavour of fennel, & the mint. The experience is seductive and relaxing at the same time.
- You keep chewing to release the juices. After about 10 mins, all that remains is the leafy core.
Now if you stick your tongue out, you’ll see that it’s turned red! There are many erotic poems based on the sharing of paan between lovers, on women putting betel leaves into their lovers’ mouths, and poems comparing women's scents to the scents of paan.
- Paan is used in various ceremonies. It is also commonly offered to guests and visitors as a sign of hospitality and eaten at cultural events.
- A translation of the Kamasutra even compares the Indian post-coital sharing of the paan to the cigarette in similar situations in American movies of the 1940's and 1950's featuring the famous Hollywood pair of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
- Nothing else that would make a better Valentine’s Day dessert. The betel leaf on its own is a perfect heart shape, most of the ingredients are aphrodisiacs, and consuming a paan, leaves your tongue n lips red! Even the greatest text on love and lovemaking – The Kamasutra endorses it!
There are many varieties of Paan, but the most potent in terms of its aphrodisiacal properties, is the Palang Tod Paan.’ Why?’ one would ask. Here’s what the local paan seller has to say - Because once a person has it, it gives him quite a ‘kick’! Palang tod paan, when literally translated, means the bed breaker! Yes! That’s the kind of passion it can arouse! It is usually given to the Hindu bride and groom on their wedding night or suhaag raat. Hence, it’s also called the suhaag raat or the wedding night special. I’ve never had one…but friends tell me that it gets its bed breaking ability because it’s laced with cocaine!
On the special day, after your romantic dinner and before slipping in between the sheets, you may just want to slip something else on – A Paan flavoured condom…and you need not worry, this one doesn’t leave the mouth red!
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