One of my most magical childhood memories is sitting in the back seat of my parents’ red VW Golf during the mid-nineties, slowly peeling back the red-stained paper from a little bundle of ‘Special Meetha Paan’: Areca nuts, fennel seeds, shredded coconut and rose paste, smothered in a ‘secret’ syrup, then tightly wrapped in a peppery betel leaf.
My last trip to everyone’s favourite paan house got me thinking; I was missing a trick. I’ve always loved the fresh flavours, but all that chewing can be terribly hard work. Then suddenly it dawned on me, why had I never made my own Paan Ice Cream?
It’s swelteringly hot over here (in comparison to last week’s pesky rain) and so I let myself go, forgot the diet for an evening and decided to finally give it a go. The first batch curdled on me because the milk I had steeped betel leaves in was too hot to add to the cold cream and custard. Boo, hiss. As this was not the time nor place for paneer, I binned it and started again.
The second batch was perfect; it had the right balance of sweet, aromatic and peppery. Sounds like my kind of ice cream.
Serve Paan Ice Cream as a refreshing after-dinner treat and an alternative to mints. It’s the most wonderful palate cleanser too, so a little bit between a starter and main course would go down a treat.
Here’s my recipe for Paan Ice Cream.
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