The story of humble “Paan”

Tambula, as the betel preparation is called in Sanskrit, is derived from the term tamra meaning copper indicating red colour. This red colour is alluded to because of one of the most popular ingredients of paan namely catechu or katha. According to Sushrata, the patriarch of ancient Indian medicine, paan keeps mouth clean,  strengthens the voice, tongue and teeth and guards against diseases. It is also said to aid in digestion and purify blood.

The heart-shaped betel-leaf, or piper betel, is preferably plucked when it is till young and tender and its taste is the best. The cultivation of this creeper needs a lot of care and attention. Dryness and exposure to the sun for too long a period can harm and plant. The betel creeper are usually cultivated under the shade of large trees or under the protection of high bamboo or thatched roofing.

There are three different types of Paan leaves.

  • Kalkatta
  • Banarasi
  • Maggai

Kalkatta paan is dark green in colour, compared to that Banarasi paan is lighter green and Maggai is available in both shades but it’s much more smaller in size than both Kalkatta and Banarasi paan. Out of all the three types, Kalkatta paan preparations generally are most preferred.

One of the most important ingredients of a betel preparation is the areca nut This seed, locally known s supari is the most popular substance in a paan. Its narcotic value, which is appreciated by all chewers of paan is due to an alkaloid called Are Colin which is produced when lime is added to paan. Its stimulating effect increases with excessive chewing. These chemical substances reduce inner restlessness and tensions in habitual paan eaters. However, these ingredients can also cause nausea, giddiness, perspiration and initial symptoms of poisoning in those who are not used to paan.

A small content of a volatile oil called betel-oil, in the leaf creates the desired spicy, aromatic and fresh taste in the mouth.

The oils contained in the betel leaf support the stimulating effect of the other ingredients.

The other contents of a prepared paan-roll are basically added for their flavouring and refreshing value. Of these catechu might be the most popular. It is a reddish solution of the heart-wood of the tree Acacia Catechu Wild, locally known as katha. Its astringent and disinfecting principals are the ctechin and catechu tannin causing contraction of the gums. It is therefore, considered a means of preserving and cleansing the mouth and teeth. This liquid causes the redness of the mouth and saliva while chewing the betel leaf.

There are many different varieties of Paan preparations.

Sada  , Meetha  , Sada Meetha  , 120  , 160  , 300  , 600  , Bhola Tambaku.

All these varieties of preparations are made in all three types of Paans i.e. Kalkatta , Banarasi and Maggai.

About sanjay

A power industry professional. I did my schooling from DPS, R K Puram, New Delhi ( Class of 1982). Earned my engineering degree from DCE ( Delhi College of Engineering) in 1986. Worked in Tata Motors ( 2 years), Thermax India (5 years), ABB (2 years), Wartsila (13 years) and now work for Tata Power. Stay in New Delhi and works in Noida. Have travelled extensively worldwide and in India. Loves to travel and see the world.
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3 Responses to The story of humble “Paan”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi,
    I have seen your recipes found very interesting. With reference to this site can you please guide me for the recipe of katha or catechu. Which brand of catechu or katha is reliable.

    Thank you
    Shams.

  2. Shams says:

    Hi,
    I have seen your recipes found very interesting. With reference to this site can you please guide me for the recipe of katha or catechu. Which brand of catechu or katha is reliable.

    Thank you
    Shams.

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