You would hardly find a South Asian community without a Paan shop be it in Toronto, London, Birmingham, Manchester, New York, Melbourne or any other part of the world. Paan is an important part of South Asian culture and food since hundreds of years.
Before Paan became popular, it was considered a delicacy among the royals and cultural elite and served after meals to freshen the breath. Traditionally, Paan is prepared with betel nut leaf with paste of slaked lime wrapped in silver foil and filled with various types of flavors and fragrances. These days Paan is served in wedding ceremonies and parties after the meal or used any time of the day.
There are one million or more recipes of Paan; in fact, there is no recipe of Paan. Every Paan lover likes to have it according to his own taste. Some like it with tobacco, some like Paan with graded coconut, some like with just a hint of fragrance and cardamom, some like Paan with sweet condiments and syrups, some like Paan with areca nuts and some like it without it … and so on. Thus, making a perfect Paan is a skill in itself. Every Paan maker has his own secret recipe. Paan makers know the linking of their regular customers and prepare Paan for each customer separately.
The betel nut leaf has been used in traditional medicine in India but the ingredients used on Paan these days are said to have carcinogenic effect.
How to Prepare Paan