I’ve never been to Banaras, or Varanasi, as its known, but among other things, such as silk sarees, music, death, and salvation, that its known for, the humble paan also figures as one of its specialties.

I am no advocate for tobacco, but I love the meetha paan – the sweet paan, with its combination of bitter leaf, sweet, sticky gulkhand and assorted spice, saffron, areca nut… Last weekend, after an indulgent meal, we landed up at a local pan-wallah. Most of the pan-wallahs in Bangalore seem to hail from Uttar Pradesh and the various dialects they speak are a treat to listen to. Some of them seem quite distant from the regular Hindi one is used to.

Anyways, here are the Maghai paans that were offered to us, two each on a stick, to be popped in whole, chewed and savored…slowly. The leaves were a strange light green with black spots though. I don’t know if thats a characteristic of Maghai paans – atleast the ones I’ve had before didn’t seem to be this colour.

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Paan-lovers can find a nicely written piece here, on why dadi said good girls don’t eat paan!

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