Paan, from the word pan lit "betel vine", is a stimulating, psychoactive preparation of betel leaf combined with areca nut and/or treated tobacco and some other ingredients Lime liquid, Paan is chewed before spitting or swallowing. Paan has many variations. Slaked lime paste is commonly added to bind the leaves. Some South Asian preparations include katha paste or mukhwas to freshen the breath.
Paan is also known as a betel quid. It is consumption widespread in India, and elsewhere in the world by some Asian emigrants, with or without tobacco, in an addictive and euphoria-inducing formulation with adverse health effects.
Kattha & cutch are extracted from wood of Khair tree. Acacia is the botanical name of this tree and it has different varieties like Acacia Sundra, Acacia Catechuoides & Acacia Catechu. These species of tree are mainly concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. The preferred locations are either UP or Bihar. Manufacture of Kattha is an important forest-based traditional industry in India. Kattha is bitter, acrid and is used in paan and in medicinal and ayurvedic preparations. Cutch is a by-product of kattha and is used as tanning material, as an additive and preservatives by many industries.
Condiments that make up the Paan's Taste:
Elaichi(cardamom): Seeds of a ginger-like plant
Lavang(clove): Immature, unopened flower buds of a tree native to the Molucca islands of Indonesia
Saunf(fennel): The fruits of the fennel plant (although they are called fennel seeds), which retain their green colour even after drying. The plant comes from the carrot family and is related to coriander (dhania), cumin (jeera) and caraway.
Anise: Is called shatapushpa (a hundred flowers) in Sanskrit because of the appearance of the cluster of flowers in the plant. Fennel and anise come from the eastern Mediterranean region and Turkey.
Varieties of Paan's:
Paan Supari / Paan Masala / Sada Paan: Betel leaf filled with a mixture of chopped or coarsely ground areca nuts and other spices
Meetha Paan / Sweet Paan: Betel leaf with coconut, fruit preserves, gulkand (rose petal preserves, various spices may also include maraschino cherry. Alternatively, some are sweet paans may contain candied fruits and/or candy-coated fennel seeds
Trento / Olarno Paan: A mint-flavored preparation served with potatoes
Bengali Paan:It is a deshi mahoba, and has a delicate flavor. Maghai Paan and Jagannath Paan are the signature varieties of Varanasi
The flavor and potency of paan depends, too, on the betel cultivar used, and the age of the plant at harvest. In South India, paan prepared from small and fragile leaves is called chigrlayele. In India, black paan leaves ambadi and kariyele, which are thicker than the green leaves are often chewed with tobacco.