Photo: Matador Network/TikTok

Fire Paan Is the Flaming Indian Snack That's Lighting Up the Internet

India Food + Drink
by Matador Creators Feb 3, 2023

A new trend is sweeping India that’s taking a common Indian snack to flaming extremes: fire paan.

@matadornetwork When in India, you must try fire paan! This traditional treat is made with a mixture of betel nut, spices, spices and areca nut pieces wrapped in the betel leaf and set ablaze. You may be surprised by the delicate flavor it produces 🔥 Would you try flaming snack in India? 🇮🇳 🎥 @xiaomanyc #indiansnacks #indianstreetfood #streetfood #foodietravel #foodietok ♬ original sound – Matador Network

The practice of eating fire paan began with the practice of chewing paan. Paan, from the Sanskrit word parna meaning leaf, is made by wrapping betel nut (the seed that comes from the fruit of the areca palm) inside betel leaves with slaked lime and spices such as fennel, clove, cardamom, and aniseed. Other flavorings might include berries, chutney, or a type of preserve made from rose petals known as gulkand. Paan is known for having medicinal properties and is often chewed as an after-meal mouth freshener, then spit out. Similar practices of chewing betel nut are common throughout South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Asia Pacific.

Fire paan is what you get when you take traditional paan and then set it ablaze. When and where this fiery iteration originated isn’t entirely clear. Some sources have traced it back to a paan shop called Galaxy Paan in the city of Rajkot in the state of Gujarat on the west coast of India. The owner of the shop, who claims to have invented fire paan, says it took more than a month to perfect the recipe and technique. Though the exact origin story remains shrouded in some mystery, what we do know is that fire paan was popularized through social media posts around 2015 and 2016 and is now a full-on internet sensation.

If the idea of snacking on an open — but quickly extinguished — flame is appealing to you, you can find fire paan shops all over India, from New Delhi to Mumbai. If not, you may still want to try chewing paan to participate in an ancient Indian tradition. While it’s often used to cleanse the palate and aid with digestion after a meal, note that betel nut can also act as a stimulant similar to caffeine, and in repeated use has been found to be similarly addictive.

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