When it comes to cooking, the greatest satisfaction for me comes when I am able to create a flavour in a particular dish exactly the way I wanted. So, when I tasted my paan (betel leaves) flavoured ice cream, I did my little happy dance.
"Meetha Paan" is one of those after-food treats I don't mind indulging in, whenever I get a chance. I remember when I was in my early teens back in my hometown, savouring on a meetha paan was a rare indulgence. But, whenever I had the chance, my special instructions to the 'paanwala bhaiya' were - extra gulkand and no supari (betel nut). The paan vendor had a tiny shop with a number of people flocking in at any point of time. Fresh paan leaves would be kept under a wet red muslin cloth, and there would be an assortment of fillings in various jars kept in a particular order to be folded inside the paan leaf, The vendor would take a fresh paan leaf, slather little 'kattha' and would ask how would you like it filled. A request for extra gulkand would often raise his eyebrow. But, in the end everyone could have a customized meetha pan to savour on.
A meetha pan is a perfect palate cleanser for me - I always put the whole of it in my mouth and my jaws are in for some extra work. Juice from the betel leaves, gulkand, fennel seeds and the various filling creates an explosion of flavours which any Indian paan loving human will vouch for. Here in Pune, we do get good meetha paan, but most of the times they are already prepared and kept in an cool ice box. When you buy one, the vendors typically dip it in rose syrup and lightly coat in desiccated coconut and serve it to you.
Sometimes back when I spotted paan ice cream at a very popular ice cream joint in the city, I ordered one. But, it didn't live up to my expectations - it had less flavour of paan and more of mint flavoured mouth freshener. So, I decided to try to make it at home. After reading various recipes online, I realized this ice-cream is very much customizable. You can flavour with a blend of things - just like the way you would want to flavour your customized meetha paan.
I stuck with my fresh cream and condensed milk combination for this ice-cream. Do read the notes for some extra tips.
250 ml fresh cream
200 g condensed milk
200 ml full fat milk
10 medium size maghai paan leaves, divided.
1/4 cup gulkand
1 tbsp green cardamom
3 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp mithi supari (optional, I used it to impart a note of mint flavour in the ice cream. Mithi supari is a mint flavoured sweetened betel nut based mouth freshener easily available in India)
1. In a small blender jar, add 5 paan leaves, gulkand, green cardamom, fennel seeds and mithi supari. Blend it to a paste using as little water as possible. Using a strainer, strain it to get the extract.
2. In a large blender jar, add the extract, rest of the 5 paan and cream. Blend till smooth. The paan leaves should be finely blended.
3. Add the milk and condensed milk to the mixture in the blender and blend again till smooth.
4. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for 2 hours.
5. Take out the half set ice-cream and tip it into the blender jar and blend it till smooth. Freeze it again till frozen. It will take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours.
6. Take it out 5 minutes before serving. Serve scoops of it chilled. You can relish it with or without topping.
1. I like my paan ice cream to be smooth. So, I strained the mixture of paan leaves, gulkand, green cardamom, fennel seeds and mithi supari to get an extract. If you like coarse bits of it in your ice-cream, you may skip the step of straining.
2. For topping you can use, rose syrup, tutti fruity or even tiny bit of gulkand.
3. Churning it before the final freezing if ice-cream helps to reduce ice crystals in the ice-cream. So, don't skip the step. You may churn it 2-3 times if you like.
4. Another way of making this ice-cream is - get 3-4 meetha pan from the vendor and churn it with milk, cream and condensed milk in the quantity mentioned in the recipe.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!