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Mar 2, 2009 03:55 AM

Betel leaves

Does anyone know where I can buy fresh betel leaves? I'm hoping to use it in a recipe this weekend.

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  1. I've seen them at Patel Bros. on 74th in Jackson Heights. Certainly if they're out of stock one of the many paan vendors could probably hook you up.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lambretta76

      put the same answer on the manhattan version of this query; got a funny feeling that *most* paan vendors would NOT want to hook up a random person! with that said, still haven't found a great paan vendor in jackson heights that can rival the freshly made ones at Charlie Paan Shop in Curry Hill; $2 for a sweet paan of beauty.

      1. re: bigjeff

        Wow, I've never tried paan from curry hill. I'll have to keep it mind when I'm in that neighborhood. I'll definitely check out Patel Bros. Thanks for the tip. I'm hoping to make Thai Mieng Kum and although I hear spinach leaves work as a substitute, it would be nice to have the real thing.

        1. re: nuni

          ah I think I've gotten this as a takeout at Sri years ago. that would be pretty gangster to have paan leaves instead. wow!

          yes charlie paan shop is amazing, the shop opens at 6pm but I think it'd be safer to go at 7pm (its mainly a cab joint); but the proprietor is great, each paan is made to order and prob takes 4 or 5 minutes each; haven't had the spicy (has tobacco in it) but only had the sweet and its really really good. on 26th st, just east of lexington, next door to roomali.

    2. Brooklyn Church and McDonald (F train) Most nights there is a guy making and selling those Betel chew things from a sidewalk stand. My guess is the Bangla grocery stores would know to.

      1. Very easy to get in South Asian areas. Patel Brothers in JH is an obvious one, but any Bengali corner store in Jamaica will do them as well. Same with the Bengali part of Church Avenue in Brooklyn. That latter area's concentration of paan sellers is immense.

        To bigjeff: I like the sweet paan served at night by the guy on the same block as the Bollywood movie theater which criss-crosses into 74th. It's also only 60 or 80 cents last time I checked. I prefer South Indian sweet paan so I normally just have the simple tobacco laden stuff when I'm in NY.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JFores

          so that would be the guy nearish the subway entrance, maybe between the tibetan/chaat fast food place? I've gotten it at kebab king diner and it wasn't good. the paan from charlie paan shop is $2 for a sweet paan that is almost a 4"-sided equilateral triangle, stuffed!

          1. re: bigjeff

            The guy closer to the Kebab King diner. I'll have to give Charlie another shot. Only been there once.

        2. There is a botanical difference in what is used in Vietnamese cooking -- often referred to as betel leaves or wild betel which is called La Lot -- and the betel used in Indian paan. They aren't interchangeable. For one thing the paan type will turn a bloody red -- hence the dyed teeth of regular paan chewers -- and it is fairly tough. LaLot, on the other hand, is a very flavorful leaf that is used in cooked recipes -- one of the most famous is the beef in grilled LaLot leaves.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pbfp

            Wow, I didn't know that. The recipe that I'm trying to make is Thai "miang kum" which is not cooked. In fact, it's not too dissimilar from paan in that it uses betel leaves as a wrap for various ingredients inside. Except that its served so that you make the "pockets" yourself and add whatever ingredients you prefer. Anyway, do you have any idea if betel leaves or lalot would work better? And where would one buy LaLot leaves in NYC? Thanks so much for the very interesting info.

          2. amazing "instructional" video on paan: