I have a strangely sentimental memory around paan. As kids, we were prohibited from having paan, well, too much of paan. The only time we were allowed to have it was when we got little shares from elders. Ma would have a paan once in a while, especially after a heavy meal. And I had developed this weird habit of taking bits of half chewed paan out of her mouth and eating those. To many an adult sensibility it might sound strange but to me, it was paan with the value addition of bit of Ma. It was our private mother bird and baby bird moment, as she called it. Or maybe I was a plain lazy child who did not want to chew much!
Since then I have a weakness for paan, it is my once in a while indulgence. There is something royal, mildly forbidden and exciting about chewing on a paan wrapped around the aromatic masalas. A well-made paan is like revelry inside the mouth. No wonder, it appears frequently in my desserts and it has never failed me as a flavour.
This time around, it lends itself to an exotic combination of paan flavoured yogurt which I served with a brittle made from paan masala. The concept – deconstructed paan. The inspiration – Ma, who loves paan, paan masala and yogurts.
Full cream milk – 1 litre; Yogurt- 4 ½ tsp; Sugar – 3 tbsp; Paan leaves – 1 or 2; Few drops of green edible colour
- Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed pan and put over very low flame;
- Wash the paan leaves well and add to the milk;
- Reduce the milk to half. Stir in between to avoid burning at the bottom of the pan;
- Take off the flame and keep aside till the milk is lukewarm. Strain the milk and discard the paan;
- Add the sugar, colour and yogurt. Churn well till the sugar dissolves and the milk is frothy;
- Pour into a bone china or terracotta pot and leave undisturbed in a warm place for 5-6 hours or till yogurt is set;
- Chill in the refrigerator and serve with the paan masala brittle.
Paan Masala Brittle
Sugar – ½ cup; Store bought paan masala of choice (I used a homemade one) – 2 tbsp
- Put the sugar with 2-3 tbsp of water in a heavy bottomed pan over medium flame;
- Wait till the sugar starts caramalizing. Swirl the pan gently to evenly distribute the heat but do not stir;
- Put a drop of the caramel in a bowl of water or on top of cold stone slab. If the caramel crystalises within a minute, it is ready;
- Add the paan masala, swirl the pan and pour the content over clean, cold tray. I pour it on the granite kitchen counter;
- Wait till it sets and break into shards.
P.S. Every opportunity that I get, I still take bits of half chewed paan out of her mouth and eat.
P.P.S. To be fair, Ma wasn’t the only inspiration but that is another story.