Mamta's Kitchen

Mouth Fresheners From India-A Collection of Recipes

Mukhwas

Mamta Gupta

Indians often serve a selection of mouth fresheners after a meal, at their home, at parties as well as at most Indian restaurants. They freshen the mouth and breath, help with the digestion and have some cooling and anti-flatulent properties. In their simplest form, mouth fresheners can be any one of these things; green cardamoms, plain fennel seeds, sugar coated fennel seeds, lemony fennel seeds, chopped-flavoured-softened and sweetened betel nuts of various shapes and sizes, Dhana-roasted core of coriander seeds, Misri-crystalised sugar. When more than one ingredient are mixed together, they are called Mukhwas (mukh=mouth and was=smell. These mouth fresheners can vary from house to house, restaurants to restaurant and between different parts of India. Mukhwas may be in the form of a Paan, a fresh betel leaf (piper betel), parcel with other mouth fresheners wrapped inside it. Many good parties in India will offer you a selection of paans and mouth fresheners, often hiring a Paan Walla for the evening to make them to your liking. Paan wallas are recognised for their own special way of making them. Their usually tiny, box like, shops can be found around India on each street corner. Some of the most famous varieties of paans are Plain, Banarsi, Maghai, Meetha, Tobacco (with chewing tobacco). Tobacco paans are not recommended, as tobacco is well known to cause oral cancers.

Eating an occasional paan is okay, but to eat them regularly is a bad habit. It stains your mouth, tongue, gums and teeth, permanently, if you eat it regularly. Unfortunately, many regular paan eaters will spit out the red saliva produced from chewing a paan on to streets, pavements, stairs of buildings, toilets and where ever else they find convenient, to the disgust of others.

Ingredients

  • A simple Paan(approximately 10 paans): One paan per person is all you need. Buy ingredients from specialist Indian grocers

  • 10 fresh betel leaves

  • 1 tsp. kuththa (ground catechu bark) paste in water

  • 1 tsp. choona (lime) paste in water

  • 1 tbsp. supari (pronounced as su-pa-ree) of choice

  • Seeds of 10 cardamoms

  • 10 cloves

  • Anything else from the list below that you want

  • Method Wash and wipe betel leaves with a clean cloth (betel leaves are heart shaped leaves with a very distinctive, sharp flavour and taste)

  • Spread a thin layer of Kuttha and Choona (lime paste in water).

  • Sprinkle just a little of supari (chopped betel nut which comes in many varieties) and cardamoms. Fold the leaf over these into a triangle, like a flat samosa. Hold it together with a clove, using it like a paper clip/pin. This is plain paan.

  • Special occasion paans may be wrapped in silver leaf, a Varak.

  • Things like sweet coconut shavings, Gulkand rose petal conserve, plain/sweetened cardamom seeds or seeds coated with silver leaf, plain or sugar coated anise/fennel, saffron can be added.

  • Other things like sweet coconut shavings, Gulkand (rose petal conserve), plain/sweetened cardamom seeds or seeds coated with silver leaf, plain or sugar coated anise/fennel, saffron can be added. Other things that can also be added are Dhana.

  • Mukhwas 1: A selection of different flavoured/textured/cuts of betel nuts. Not many people cut them at home now, you can buy different varieties ready packed from Indian grocers.

  • Mukhwas 2 by Devi Patel:

  • 100 gm. dhania dhana (roasted and salted cores of coriander seeds), buy from Indian grocer

  • 100 gm. saunf (anise seed or fine fennel) dry roasted for 7-8 minutes

  • 2 tbsp. Heera Moti mix, sold in tins by large Indian grocers

  • 10 gm. very thinly sliced supari (chopped betel nut that has been flavoured), also known as Lachcha Supari. Buy from Indian grocers.

  • Seeds of 10 green cardamoms/illaichi, ground

  • 1 tbsp. Gulkand rose petals preserve. Buy from Indian grocers.

  • Method: Mix everything together and store in an airtight jar.

  • Mukhwas 3:

  • Mix equal amounts of fine saunf (anise seeds) and Misri/Mishri (small crystals of sugar) in a bowl. Store in a jar. Serve after meals.

  • Mukhwas 4:

  • 2 tbsp. dried paan leaves, broken into small pieces

  • 2 tbsp. saunf (anise seeds/fine fennel)

  • 2 tbsp. liquorices root powder or Yashthimadhu or Jesthimadh

  • 1 tsp. green cardamom seeds

  • 1 tsp. ground clove powder (optional)

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)

  • 2 tbsp. Heera Moti powder (buy in tin from large Indian grocers)

  • MethodMake sure paan patta are clean, picking out any stalks or grit. Wash and towel dry. Keep them wrapped in a moist cloth to prolong life and freshness.

  • Dry roast saunf, cardamoms seeds in a wok for 6-7 minutes, until you get a nice aroma.

  • Cool and grind to a coarse powder.

  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix. When fully cold, store in a dry and airtight jar.

  • Serve after an Indian meal. It is best to have it in a small bowl, with a small spoon, perhaps a coffee spoon.

  • Mukhwas 5:

  • Mix equal amounts of fine saunf (anise/fennel seeds), dhania dhana ( roasted and salted cores of coriander seeds), finely shredded and sweetened supari (betel nuts) of choice, a few drops of rose essence or Gulkand. You can add a few sugar coated an

  • Mukhwas 6

  • 1 cup fine saunf (anise/fine fennel) and 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut, mixed together. You can also add 1/2 cup of Misri crystallised sugar to this mix. Saunf tastes nicer if dry roasted lightly in a pan. This mix can be ground to a powder too

  • Mukhwas 7 from Col. Puneet Gupta of India: Mix equal amounts of following:

  • Saunf (anise seeds)-flavoured is better, with mishri (crystallised sugar lumps), flavoured sweet supari (betel nut) and chotti elaichi (green cardamom seeds).

Instructions

  1. Making paans, it's ingredients and Mukhwas is a whole industry in India, almost everyone eats it, in one form or other.

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