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Paan leaves are medium to large in size and oblong to heart-shaped, averaging 7-15 centimeters in length and 5-11 centimeters in width. The dark green leaves are flat, broad, and pliable and have a smooth, but slightly leathery texture. There is also a central vein the runs the length of the leaf with many smaller veins branching throughout. Each Paan leaf tapers to a point on the non-stem end and grows on climbing vines. Paan leaves are chewy and have a sharp, tangy, and peppery taste.
Paan leaves are available year-round.
Paan leaves, botanically classified as Piper betel, grow on an evergreen perennial and belong to the Piperaceae family along with pepper and kava. Also known as Betel leaves, Pan in Bengali, Paan Ka Patta in Hindi, Tambula in Sanskrit, and Tanbul in Persian, Paan leaves are known for their ability to serve as a digestive aid and breath freshener when chewed and have been used in Asia and Southeast Asia for centuries. There are thirty-two varieties of the popular leaf, cultivated throughout India and Bangladesh, creating a huge industry for the plant and Paan leaves are often used as a flavoring for candies, desserts, and sodas.
Paan leaves are a good source of calcium and antioxidants and also contain vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, thiamine, niacin, and carotene.
Paan leaves are used primarily for their medicinal properties and as wrappings for other ingredients. They are most commonly used as a wrapper for the areca nut or tobacco and when chewed they impart a peppery flavor. The leaf is also chewed along with other barks and leaves such as sweetened coconut, lime, cardamom, anise seeds, licorice, and fruit preserves. Paan leaves can also be found as a street snack with chocolate syrup poured over them or used as an edible garnish for other dishes. Paan leaves pair well with dried shrimp, coconut, mint, garlic, ginger, chiles, carrots, peanuts, chocolate, and lime. Paan leaves will keep up to three days when unwashed and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Paan leaves have been used in India since ancient times in traditional medicine and as a symbol of respect and new beginnings. Paan leaves were originally chewed in between meals as a digestive aid and mouth freshener for royalty, but then it became a widespread tradition. To use as a breath freshener, the leaf is rolled into a conical shape and chewed whole. Paan leaves are also a common gift during special occasions such as new year celebrations, weddings, or even gifts to Ayurvedic teachers as a blessing. In many homes throughout India, Paan leaves are offered to guests in a bundle called a ‘pan-supari’ as a courtesy.
Paan leaves are native to Southern India and Southeast Asia and date back to 2600 BCE. They were then spread to tropical Africa, and today Paan leaves are widely cultivated and found in fresh markets in Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
Recipes that include Paan Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Cook with Manali||Easy Paan Ice Cream|
|Spices N Flavors||Paan Shots|
|Cook with Manali||Paan Milkshake - Betel Leaves Drink|