Pan Shops of Kolkata
Shivshankar Banarasi Pan Bhandar
This 70-year-old paan shop situated at the crossing of Vivekananda Road and Bidhan Sarani is one of the most renowned paan shops in Kolkata. Owned by Tarini Prasad Haldar, the meetha masala paan in great demand by the crowd here comprises primarily of office goers and businessmen.
This paan has quite a distinctive taste. Tarini briskly rubs the hatha, which is from Bareilly, along with the chuna and masala for a while. His special meetha paan-masala lends that superior taste along with special varieties of "Milky" and "Ice-cream" suparis which adds a peppermint tinge to the paan.
Tarini claimed that no compromises are made with the quality of red cherries, coconut flakes and rose-water, put in the paan. The First Night paan priced at Rs. 250 is wrapped in edible gold foil and has original kesar and saffron and is actually worth the price.
The Bombay lachcha (supari) is of exquisite quality which he sprinkles on the finished paan before serving. Finally, he serves the paan in banana leaves or specially made boxes.
210 Bidhan Sarani (Vivekananda Road crossing),
Price range: Rs.10 – Rs.250
Shudhari Chaurasiya's Pan Shop
Beside Tivoli Court on Ballygunge Circular Road is a 50-year-old paan shop perched inside a little wooden set up at the corner of a HPC petrol pump. The nameless paan shop thrives on sheer quality of its products and the remarkable politeness and courtesy guarantees full customer satisfaction.
Shudhari, the owner, claims that he uses the most expensive, superior quality betel leaf and two varieties of katha to make the softest paan in Kolkata. This is a speciality which once stuffed inside the mouth, melts in a jiffy. Shudhari puts a plain, thick katha followed by a sweeter variety which gives his paan a mild sweetness. He boasts of using a pure, unaddictive katha which only few others may possess in the city. His gulkand emits a rosy fragrance and signifies its superior quality. The paan has kesar added to it, at a higher range.
One has to be careful of the hatha dripping out from the loosely folded paan served over a tissue. Before leaving, one should remember to pay the price of the paan since they are too polite to ask for it.
1B Ballygunge Circular Road ,
(HPC petrol pump besideTivoli Court),
Price range: - Rs. 40
This 38-year-old paan shop has emerged as a landmark. Lalan Singh, the current owner, generally sells meetha paan made of Kalkatta patta and draws the family crowd which translates to around 1000 customers daily.
The paan at Shibuji is exceptionally sweet. Prices also vary. Lalan boasts of his special chutneys (sweet yellowish syrup), one of which he makes himself (and keeps the ingredients and the recipe a secret); and the other, Bab a variety, which he buys, lends a minty taste with a kesari flavour.
Located at the crossing of Shakespeare Sarani and Wood Street, Shibuji, primarily known for paan and soda-shikanzi, has other stuffs such as coolfi, chaats and street foods beiiyg sold beside the paan shop.
26 Shakespeare Sarani (Wood Street crossing),
Price :- Rs. 15 – Rs. 40
Saattalla Paan Wallah
Situated in the ground floor of a seven storied building (Saattalla) beside Satyanaryan Park AC Market in Burrabazar, this is a 100-year-old paan shop owned by Ganesh Prasad Chaurasiya. It gets a footfall of over 2000 customers daily, primarily businessmen. The paan you get here is large in size, prepared with two or more leaves wrapped into a pyramid-like shape, making it almost difficult to shove it inside the mouth at one-go.
Other than the special dry hatha, and two other types of hatha and the Disco masala, he adds a good quantity of jelly (yellow and green bits of papaya) and coconut flakes and Jaypuria cherries to achieve that distinct taste. After the paan is made, it is put into the refrigerator for cooling and then wrapped in silver foil, sprinkled with syrup and jelly and served on a banana leaf.
143/1/1 Cotton Street,
Price range:- Rs.5 – Rs. 175
Located just behind College Square, this is a 77-year-old paan shop which has been graced by many famous visitors such as former Presidents and Prime Ministers like Sarvapalli Radha Krishnan, Zakir Hussain and Indira Gandhi.
Kalpatarus paans are available in the price range of Rs.5 to Rs.1001. It serves a small paan which derives its taste from its special suparis (acre nut) which is one of its kind in the city. The speciality of the paan prepared here is that it is not too sweet since it does not have gulkand (sweet mixture made out of rose petals) and Katha or Khayer.
Its owner, Shyamal Dutta has quite a few tricks up his sleeve to ensure that distinct taste. Here, innovation is really the key word. Starting from the special chuna (lime) procured from snail shell dust to a large variety of supari namely Nehrupatiy, Chips, Keshrani, Milky, Icy and the atar (perfume) - every ingredient is unique.
6/1 Bankim Chatterjee Street,
Price range: Rs.5 - Rs.1001
There are a number of paan shops near Minto Park on Sarat Bose Road. Laxman is the oldest paanwala here. His shop is situated just around the Elgin Road crossing. He sells a large, loosely folded paan overstuffed with colourful ingredients and gulkand. The thick gulkand and paan masala fills the mouth, leaving a mild sweet taste.
Laxman Choudhury, the owner of the shop, is also known for making good Qimam paan which contains jardaa (tobacco). Apart from paan, he also sells chaat and sodas. The shop is patronised by a young crowd who enjoys the juicy mouth-freshening paan on their way back home from the nearby pub.
15 C, Sarat Bose Road,
Cell: 9903937443/ (033) 22876574
Price range: Rs. 5 – Rs.200
Taj Mahal Pan shop
After a sumptuous meal at Aminia near New Market, no one walks away without having a paan from this 100-year-old paan shop adjoining the KMC building with primarily Bengali customers. The paan served here has claims to fame having tantalized the taste buds of celebrities like Dilip Kumar, Muhammad Rafi, Raj Kumar, Dharmendra and many others. Maniruddinji, the owner of the shop, only play Md Rafi s songs for a nostalgic ambience and has decorated his shop with photographs of his celebrity customers.
Taj Mahal specialises in "meetha ice paan". The masala in this paan is of a crunchy variety which mainly contains two types of red flakes, little silver granules, red lachcha along with coconut powder and a pinch of sweet yellow masala. Before serving, the paan is dipped in a special homemade gulkand made from rose petals, saccharine and other substances for a mild sweet taste. However, the paan here is not so sweet because they do not add the readymade gulkand which is generally added by the other paan shops.
6 A, S.N Banerjee Road,
Price range: Rs. 5 – Rs.20
Om Bijay Singh
Bijay has his two paan shops located on Lyons Range opposite to Calcutta Stock Exchange. His 100-year-old shop catered mainly to the government employees posted at Writers’ Building and people visiting the Stock Exchange.
This paan shop specialises in both jarda and meetha paan which has a plain taste of the paan leaves served with the original hard supari of kacha, bhaja and geela variety, for a long-drawn chew. The katha is mainly from Indian Wood Products (IWP).
He uses a liberal quantity of gulkand and chutney along with one and a half leaves in each paan.
16 Indian Exchange Place,
Price range: Rs.5 – Rs. 15
Chaurasiya Paan Shop
Jitendra Kumar Chaurasiya’s paan shop is located near swimming pool between BF and CF blocks of Salt Lake, Sector 1. There are quite a few restaurants and food joints around this area. The 15-year-old paan shop mostly sells meetha paan. The paanwala boasts of his special Banarasi katha and Hira Moti masala which he puts on a stiffer variety of leaf, distinct from those served by others. He mixes a specially made paan masala to the katha that lends distinct flavour to his paan.
The paan shop has benches where one can sit and enjoy the bliss of chewing a juicy paan.
Block BF-CF, Salt Lake, Sector-I
Price range: - Rs.8 – Rs.50