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Stuff It!

12427-1206599-thumbnail.jpgThe thing in this picture is called a Pan, which I'll explain in a moment. First, however, let me ask you: does it look like something you should stuff in your mouth? Whole?

In a nutshell, or more appropriately, in a nut- leaf , Pan starts with the leaf of the betel plant. Betel leaf contains several active ingredients which, in general, act as stimulants.

To make the confection, leaves are filled with a unique amalgam of cardamom, shaved betel nut, cloves, grated coconut and sugar. In addition, you may find any or all of these additional ingredients included: dates, gulkand (rose petal and honey), jellied fruit, mint and camphor (karpooram).

One of the oddest ingedients you can also request be added is tobacco! Pan with tobacco, we're told, will really "make your head go for a spin!" (We passed on this kind offer...)

In India, pan plays an important part in social life and customs and has done so for hundreds of years. Come to Mumbai and you'll find this "delicacy" is made available to the public in Pan Shops sprinkled around town. For some, it's a daily ritual.

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