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    After the colours wash off, continue the celebration with our pick of paan specials for Holi

    An antioxidant, aphrodisiac and mouth freshener, betel leaves have many uses. During festivals, the paan ka patta explores many avatars in culinary experiments, be it Thai cuisine (mian kham — betel leaf wraps) or Vietnamese (Bo La Lot — betel leaf wrapped beef) or South Indian dishes like vetrilai rasam. For the ever-popular ice cream, try the golgappa corner on Nungambakkam main road­—that serves the paan ice cream. We give you other options for the tingling paan flavour during the Holi celebrations. Read on:

    Paan tangdi @ Park Hyatt
    Chef Balaji Natrajan wanted to try something different this Holi so he came up with a paan tangdi with spicy yoghurt. The dish has betel leaf oil, tender betel leaves, cashews, hung yoghurt, lemon juice, coriander and green chillies. Also try their ice cream beeda served in a betel leaf cone. Available on request. Priced from Rs 750 onwards. Details: 71771234

    Paan kulfi @ Tasteation
    Introduced by one of the partners, Pinki Bokadia’s paan kulfi is a fast moving dish at Tasteation. “It is simple. I get the leaf from a regular paan shop, crush it with milk, add dry fruits and kulfi mix and it is ready. For garnish, we use tutti frutti,” says Bokadia, who also likes paan shots. The taste of kulfi in the ice cream is mild, but refreshing. Priced at Rs 80. Details: 30925970

    Paan Martini @ Taj Coromandel
    This Holi, make your own paan maritni. All you need is betel leaf, vodka, apple, lime and cranberry juice. The peppery and refreshing flavour is unique and a must try. A little factoid: betel leaves taste better in cold preparations. Priced at Rs 600. Available at Chipstead, Taj Coromandel. Details: 66002827

    Paan rasmalai @ The Park
    A delicacy during weddings, paan rasmalai is most popular in West Bengal. Chef Bhaskar recreates the flavours at The Park. “The rasmalai has betel nuts, gulkand and saffron. Paan leaf is used as a base and the betel nuts give out the paan flavour,” he says. The dish is part of special parties at the banquet. Chef Bhaskar also makes paan gelatos and paan biryani, which seem as promising as the rasmalai. Priced at Rs 325. Details: 42955580

    Betel prawn wrap @ Maplai
    Chef Kaushik Shankar from Maplai restaurant is a fan of the betel leaf. His new addition to the menu is the paan prawn wrap, which includes pepper, garlic, coconut oil, ginger and onion paste. “I first marinate and then grill it. So the taste of the leaf oozes in. The dish is crispy from the outside and juicy from the inside. The pepper makes it spicy and aromatic. The betel leaf gives a nice lift to the dish,” he says. Served as a starter, each plate serves eight pieces. Priced at Rs 229. Details: 9884651111

    Paan shots @ Jalpaan
    One need not be a bartender to get this right. Paan shots are a simple solution to your post-meals unease. Made with milk, gulkand and the leaf itself, we suggest you visit Jalpaan to taste the shots, which are served as a digestive drink. Priced at Rs 20. Details: 30853623

    Ice cream @ Pabrai’s
    This ice cream address in Thiruvanmiyur serves natural ice creams — paan being one of them. According to the owner, Krishna Kumar, “We use 17 ingredients in the ice cream and it is completely natural. These components are what goes into a Calcutta meetha paan — like supari, gulkand, etc. Our paan ice cream is very popular and is generally asked for at weddings. Sometimes people don’t want to serve paan at events, offering ice cream instead. We make do without any toppings. As we don’t wish to spoil the taste,” he says. Priced at Rs 102 per scoop. Details: 66752198

    Mrinalini Sundar

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