Banarasi Paan Is GI-Tagged: Joins Elite Club With Langda Mango
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Indulging in a lavish Indian meal is incomplete without the perfect finale: paan. Whether it's the classic plain, flavoured, or chocolate paan, we simply adore them all. But there's something exceptional about the Banarasi paan that sets it apart from the rest. It has established a unique identity and remains undefeated among all paan varieties. No wonder actor Amitabh Bachchan immortalised it with his popular song 'Khayike paan Banaras wala,' adding to its illustrious reputation. And now, the Banarasi paan has rightfully received the recognition it deserves—the prestigious Geographical Indication tag.

The Geographical Indication tag (or GI) is a distinguished accolade awarded to products that possess unparalleled characteristics unique to their place of origin. From the region's topography to its resources and even its culture, certain foods are nearly impossible to replicate elsewhere, making them truly exceptional.

A delightful fusion of flavours and textures, Banarasi paan is a unique blend of slivered and grated areca nuts, tobacco, slaked lime, a jam made of rose petals (gulkand), and sometimes a touch of silver foil (vark) wrapped in a fresh betel leaf (kattha) and pinned with a clove. What sets it apart is the fact that it's freshly made by the skilled paan street vendors, a rarity that's hard to find elsewhere. 

But Banarasi paan is more than just a street food or post-meal mouth-freshener in Banaras. It embodies the spirit of celebration and reflects the area's warm hospitality. Step into any home in the city, and it's likely that you'll be greeted with a tray of Banarasi paan, a symbol of the city's rich cultural heritage.

Recently, the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) in Uttar Pradesh joined hands with the Banaras community to grant the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) tag to five distinct food items from the region. Among them, Banarasi paan stole the limelight, along with Banarasi Langda mango, Ramnagar Bhanta (brinjal), and Adamchini rice. The decision to award the Banarasi paan with the GI tag has been widely applauded. This new milestone brings the Kashi region's GI-tagged products to a staggering total of 22, further cementing its reputation as a hub of unique and exquisite produce.

But here's a fascinating fact: Varanasi, earlier known as Banaras, offers a plethora of paan varieties apart from the celebrated Banarasi paan. Venture down the streets, and you'll discover an assortment of flavours waiting to be savoured. From the Banarasi saada paan, which is the most popular variety, to the Banarasi meetha paan, panchmeva paan, zarda paan, or kesar paan, the city offers an assortment of options to choose from. Do you know what you would savour on your next trip to the spiritual capital of India yet?