If you can’t decide between chocolate cake, ice cream or cognac to end a meal, brace yourself. There are more than 40 other options.
The Betel Leaf Co (TBLC), a Bengaluru-based dark kitchen, is doing its best to solve the after-meal dilemma, by adding a twist to the traditional Indian treat. Now, after much research, they offer everything from paan-flavoured ice cream to a red velvet paan.
TBLC founder Prem Raheja says he decided to give paan a status lift with a modern twist, and also to make it easily accessible to more consumers. TBLC offers over 45 flavours in addition to their original bestseller magai — all their paans are tobacco free and made using the famous magai leaf from Bihar. The company claims and credits the uniqueness of the taste in their paan to the superior quality magai leaf. Interesting flavours, which are a hit with younger customers, include coffee, pineapple, cherry, cognac and mango, to name a few.
‘Hooked to flavour’
Raheja’s idea has roots in his nutritionist’s suggestion that he try chewing paan to counter post-meal bloating. Raheja recalls, “After some research, I settled on a paan without too much of the chutney (the condiments that go into a paan) that came with tobacco. The discomfort vanished within a few days, and I got hooked to flavour. I also realised that paan varies from shop to shop. A lot of trial and error later, I discovered that many paan shops use inferior quality locally grown leaves.”
Leaning on his experience and contacts in the food and beverage industry, Raheja spent a few months exploring the paan culture of the royalty of yore and researching the present paan industry. He says, “After travelling to 11 Indian cities and tasting hundreds of paans while working to get the right combination, my goal was to reposition the paan as a healthy dessert. I wanted to make it easily accessible to all, without having to stand at a paan shop, and make paan chewing a sophisticated activity, by dispelling the notion that it is invariably associated with the offensive spitting.” He harks back to the days when royalty presented paan to guests.
TBLC’s paan comes in individual with a three layered (nitrogen) vacuum pillow pouch neatly stacked in boxes, ideal for gifting or as a dessert option. They are preservative-free and packed using methods that enable the paan to stay fresh upto 95 hours. The paans are non messy, not stuffed with ingredients like coconut, sweet jelly, cherry etc. And that’s what makes them a treat in the mouth allowing the paan lover to get a taste of the leaf.
They also have a subscription plan to deliver paan boxes for customers who want an everyday after-meal mouth freshner. Each box contains 4 servings of paan and price ranges from ₹173 to ₹215.
Raheja says, “We might be seen as as pricey, but considering the premium chutneys and ingredients that we use to flavour our paan, including the best leaf and select flavours, they are worth the price. Also, our paans are FSSAI-certified and have less than 60 kilocalories.”
The Betel leaf Co now services Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mysuru, Mumbai, and Visakhapatanam, and will start operations in Chennai in mid-September.