Filling up on a creamy falooda and finishing up with a refreshing paan is the best way to wrap up a hearty Indian meal. And Durga Paan and Falooda shows you just the way to do it
The moment I think ‘paan’, my mind races back to the song “Khaiyke Paan Banaraswala” from the movie Don featuring Amitabh Bachchan. Paan is universally Indian and prevalent in every state. I remember my grandfather and his brass pan box that contained all the ingredients to make a fresh paan. And of course who can overlook the fact that many Indian walls bear testimony to the wrath of the paan barrage!
Paan is made from betel leaves on which various ‘fillings’ are put. The leaf is then wrapped into a neat little parcel and served, preferably chilled. Indian paan makers or paanwalahs or paanwaris as they are called are believed to have their own secret recipes!
I am sure Durga Paan and Falooda have their own too. The fillings range from candied fruit, raisins, cardamom, saffron, roasted coconut, areca nut, slaked lime paste to an edible silver leaf! Many varieties of paans are available with dollops of gulkand and honey-flavoured cardamom and supari, and some are really like sweetmeats and can be eaten like chocolates!
Folding a paan and presenting it the right way is an art by itself. It is also said that paan has its own identity in different states of India — the paan in Varanasi for instance, tastes very different from the paan in Lucknow or Kolkata. For the true paan enthusiast, the quality of the paan is a matter of great importance and pride; it is no casual affair. Lifelong friendships are forged and a visit to one’s favourite paan shop is not a chore but a social ritual. Eating a paan, folding it with spices and condiments and sharing it with a friend, is a gesture of hospitality, a token of love, respect. Both the leaf and the ingredients are also known to have several health benefits, sans the tobacco and betel nut.
Durga Paan and Falooda has brought falooda and paan to the residents of Sydney. Falooda is the result of the Persian influence on Indian cuisine. It is a cold beverage and traditionally contains rose syrup, vermicelli and/or basil seeds, tapioca pearls and pieces of gelatine with milk or water. It can also look like rice noodles as it is made with corn starch or arrowroot and is served with ice cream or kulfi as well. The falooda served here is very interesting as it has an assortment of edibles like jelly, nuts, icecream, bits of cherries and lots of other surprises.
Finishing a sumptuous hearty meal with falooda and my favourite kulfi and then wrapping it all up with a well-made, tasty paan ………. Heaven!