“Khaike paan banaras wala, khul jaye band akal ka taala”- is one of the most played songs at the paanshops in the bylanes of Banaras. If you have been thinking until now that the celebrated Banarasi paan gained fame because of this iconic Bollywood song, there are historical anecdotes with reference to the existence of paan decades ago. A well-known reference is from the Mughal history scriptures wherein the queens have been said to relish the delectable taste of paan. Paan was popular not just for its taste but also its texture, colour and appearance.
What Really Is Banarasi Paan?
Paan in Banaras is a symbol of love, happiness and hospitality. Since time immemorial, the people of Banaras have been serving paan as a gesture of greeting. There are a lot of factors which make Banarasi paan stand out of the mainstream; one of them is that the panwaaris of Banaras prepare fresh paan right on the spot unlike other paan wallas of the country. It's quite a delight to see them preparing a perfect paan right in front of your eyes. Secondly, the generous amount of love they put in while making the paan, makes it explicable.
Banarasi paan is in itself a lot more than a refreshing savoury, it is, in fact, a food with a wonderful experience. Banarasi paan is an exotic combination of areca nuts, catechu (kattha) of fresh betel leaf, tobacco, slaked lime, to which other ingredients like rose petals (gulkand), silver foil (varakh) etc. are added. You can easily spot a paan shop in the famous streets of Banaras. You'll be amused on seeing a paan wala serving you the freshly prepared paan in his own unique style. After all, ‘Banarasi paan served in Banarasi style' is what truly represents the authenticity of the famous paan.
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Banarasi paan is delightfully rich in both taste and variety. Maghai and Jagannath paan are not the only two variants of paan; astonishingly Banaras has a huge assortment of Banarasi paans. You'd be surprised to know that the price range of the famous paan starts with Rs.15 and ends somewhere around Rs. 5,000. The price of the paan depends on its ingredients and the method of preparation. The richer the ingredients, the more pricey it is.
Below, we have enlisted a few savoured varieties of Banarasi paan, which should essentially be a part of your must-try delights in Banaras:
1. Banarasi Sada Paan
Simple yet delicious - Banarasi sada paan is the most popular variety of paan, which has a huge fan-following comprising people of all ages.
Banarasi paan: A simple yet delicious Sada paan
2. Banarasi Meetha Paan
A pleasant aroma and sweet taste make this paan everyone's favourite. Banarasi meetha paan is usually preferred by the youth of the city.
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Banarasi Paan: Cherry-topped Meetha Paan
3. Banarasi Panchmeva Paan
It is as luscious as it sounds; a rich concoction of five dry fruits and rich exotic flavour of spices makes this particular paan a perfect treat for special occasions.
4. Banarasi Zarda Paan
A deadly combination of flavoursome Indian masalas and a hint of mint flavour, refresh not just your breath but your taste buds as well.
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Banarasi paan: Flavoursome Zarda Paan
5. Banarasi Gulab Paan
The refreshing, soulful essence of gulkand and some fruity syrup in the Banarasi Gulab Paan, will put your foodie soul in high spirits.
6. Banarasi Kesar Paan
The lush flavour of kesar (saffron) and cardamom make this paan a delicious treat for both taste buds and bodily health.
Banarasi paan: Kesar Gulkand Paan
7. Banarasi Navratan Paan
Ingredients like gulkand, mint, cardamom (elaichi), saunf and lots of cherries, rolled up in a betel leaf/paan leaf will leave you relishing the flavours for a really long time.
Banarasi paan: Colourful Navratan Paan
8. Banarasi Rajratan Paan
When it comes to class, Banarasi Rajratan paan never fails to impress. It tastes as royal as it sounds; the high-quality ingredients and the stunning silver foil topping makes this paan irresistible.
Banarasi paan: Luscious Rajratan Paan
9. Banarasi Amavat Paan
Banarsi Amavat paan is a gorgeous combination of a sweet and sour taste. The tantalising taste of aam papad makes this particular paan one of the most preferred ones during special occasions.
10. Banarasi Paan Gillori
Banarsi Paan Gillori is quite similar to the Banarasi Meetha Paan. It is enriched with a good amount of dry fruits like cashews, rasins, gulkand etc. and leaves a refreshingly cool feeling in the mouth
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A trip to Banaras without relishing Banarasi paan is incomplete. So, next time you visit the city of ghats, make sure to gobble up a few authentic Banarasi paans.
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