This family-friendly paan parlour in Chennai says no to tobacco and focuses on quality ingredients
A cosy little space down the Pulla Avenue in Shenoy Nagar, Kattha Chuna is brightly lit with barely any seating space, a long counter and colourful racks of interesting jars of betel nuts and preserves. Owned by father-son duo, Praveen Daga and Vijay Roshan Daga, this paan shop hopes to break the stereotypical image of paan shops as hubs for smokers and of paan chewing as a bad habit. With 17 varieties of paan on the menu, Praveen tells us, “We need to remember that the paan is a good digestive — part of our rich cultural history. Our ingredients are the best in the market. In fact, even the chuna (limestone paste) we use is not harsh like in the other stores.” We sip on a lemony Masala Soda Sikanji (that has hints of asafoetida and cumin) while perusing the menu of flavoured sodas, milkshakes and juices.
A perfect place to head to after a heavy meal, we soon find that the little claypots of Shahi Makhan Rabdi make for a great dessert before you pop a paan at Kattha Chuna. Sweet and creamy, topped with strands of saffron we are informed that this dessert uses diabetic-friendly sugar (Diabliss). Their gulkhand (the sweet jammy filling found in the meetha paan) we are told is sugar candy-based, while all the flavoured preserves comes from Jaipur and boast of natural ingredients.
Most importantly they are a non-tobacco store and claiming to be the only FSSAI certified paan store in the city, with plans of opening another outlet in Nungambakkam soon. Praveen tells us how the ‘kattha’ (the catechu paste that is derived from the wood of Khair tree) – that is used as a base on the leaves is of the iwp brand, that has been in the market since 1919. We pick the Night Queen Paan and soon are presented with a roll of betel leaves dusted with coconut shavings. It is a sweet paan and the flavour of the night-flowering jasmine or parijat flower surprises with its definite taste and aroma. However, our curiosity is certainly piqued by the 24-karat gold leaf covered Golden Paan that is a whopping Rs 1,100 apiece. Praveen lets on that it is also called the Honeymoon Paan and is a special concoction made from a dozen natural Ayurvedic herbs that claim aphrodisiac qualities!
Paan priced from Rs 17 to Rs 1,100.