Ingredients: Pandanus | Pandan Leaf | Screwpine Leaf | Rampe | Kewa

The stiff, bright green pandanus leaf is used for its colour and flavour in curries and rice dishes in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Chinese, Indonesia and the S.E. Asian countries.  There is no real substitute for the unusual nutty, grassy but sweet flavour of the leaf,  which is cut into pieces or tied in a knot and added to dishes. Different varieties have flavours that are variously described as rose-like, almondy, and milky sweet, vanilla-like. (There are over 700 varieties of Pandanus, some edible and some not. The most aromatic types are from Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.)

Screwpine leaf was the name given by English traders who traveled to Asia. The Indian name for it is Rampe and in Bangladesh it is called ketaki.

Kewra is the flower of a variety of pandanus, and can be found sold as an essence. The flowers are golden and have a fragrant, strong, and sweet aroma.

The Leaf

A Pandanus leaf is long, thin, narrow, and green and can be bought fresh, frozen, dried or powdered.  As usual, the dried leaves have less fragrance and flavour  than the fresh leaves.

Fresh pandanus leaves are available from Asian and some Indian grocery stores, and occasionally you can find them in markets and specialty shops. Store them whole, in a plastic bag in the freezer. Bright green Pandanus leaf powder can also be bought from spice shops – store it away from light to retain its color.

Pandan Leaf

Using Pandanus in Cooking

The leaf is used in curries of Sri Lanka and in Malaysia, Bali, and Thailand. It is commonly used for its flavoring and coloring. The leaves are tied in a knot and placed in soups, stews, curries, rice dishes, puddings and curries as they cook. The leaf is usually removed from a dish before eating, or served as a garnish but not eaten.

The leaf is also bruised or raked with a fork to release its aroma, pounded to release its aromatic juice, or even boiled to obtain its flavour for stocks and drinks. Pandanus leaves are also used as wrappers in Southeast Asian cooking to provide flavour to foods, and is used to give colour to  glutinous rice desserts, candies, puddings, soups, and coconut drinks. In China, the leaves are woven into a basket which is then used as a pot for cooking rice.

Pandan leaf can also be used as a complement to chocolate in many dishes, such as ice cream. It also pairs well with coconut milk, glutinous rice, lemongrass, milk, brown sugar, and turmeric.

In Indian cooking, pandan is used to enhance the flavor of pulao, biryani and sweet coconut rice pudding, payesh, if basmati rice is not used. It acts as a cheap substitute for the basmati rice fragrance as one can use normal, non-fragrant rice and with the help of pandan the dish tastes and smells like basmati.

The pandanus flower, more delicate and fragrant than the leaf, is used in North India to perfume biryanis. It goes well with rices, coconut, lemongrass, brown sugar, star anise, cumin, and nutmeg.

The flower’s extract, kewra, is commonly used to flavor Indian desserts such as rasgulla (cottage cheese in syrup), gulab jamun (fried cottage cheese in syrup), and rasmalai (cottage cheese with condensed milk).

Some recipes that include Pandanus are here and here.

Therapeutic and Other Uses

In India, screwpine leaves are sacred to Siva. In many Indian villages, the leaves are also tossed into open wells to scent the drinking water.

The leaves are a diuretic and they have been used to treat various skin diseases.

Powdered leaves are also used to combat weevils which infest mung beans.

In Southeast Asia, the scented oil is used as a cockroach repellent.

The leaves of the various non-edible varieties of Pandanus are used for basket weaving and other crafts.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s