Pandan is a herbaceous green plant native to South and Southeast Asia. Pandan grows like a weed in the wild, but it has been domesticated in some parts of the world, producing a variant that does not have flowers.
The use of pandan is common in Southeast Asian cuisines, but as soon as people in the Western part of the world discovered its taste and unique flavor, it began to gain some popularity. You might have come across Pandan at your local market, and you are wondering what it tastes like or what you can do with it.
What does pandan taste like? Pandan has a naturally sweet taste accompanied by fruity notes that remind you of bananas. The pandan flavor is not released until the leaves are bruised or broiled. It has a strong flavor that feels grassy, with coconut, rose, almond, and vanilla hints. Some people have described the flavor of pandan to be close to that of basmati rice.
Pandan has a texture that can be pretty unpleasant while it is still raw. Dried pandan leaves do not have the same flavor as fresh leaves until they are processed. This herbaceous green has a slew of nutritional benefits that do the body a great deal of good.
Nutritional Benefits of Pandan
This herbaceous green is an excellent source of iron, especially in its paste form. It is unusual for a plant like pandan to have that much iron. Pandan paste supplies the body with about 32 percent of the daily value (DV) of iron, which aids oxygen and blood circulation. It could help do away with conditions like anemia and iron deficiency. Pandan is an excellent source of nutrients. It has zero fat, contains protein, fiber, phosphorus, and calcium.
Pandan paste is an excellent source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which is plentiful in pandan. You can find about 50 to 80 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A in a 100 gram serving of pandan. The vitamin A content in pandan differs; pandan variants that bear fruits with a deep yellow or orange color have vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential to eye health; it also helps to boost immunity.
A 100 gram serving of Pandan supplies the body with about 11 percent of the daily value of fiber. Fiber is a nutrient essential for gut health; it helps with digestion by adding bulk to our food and facilitating bowel movement.
Pandan also has other potential health benefits, like its ability to help control blood sugar levels. Studies carried out on 30 healthy adults have shown that drinking tea made using pandan leaves regularly; helps the body keep blood sugar levels at healthy levels.
Pandan leaves might also be the cure for a foul mouth odor. Chewing pandan leaves helps maintain a fresh breath, and it could help treat bleeding gums. Pandan might be able to cure arthritis, but further studies need to be carried out to support the authenticity of that claim.
Culinary Use of Pandan
Pandan cannot be eaten for sustenance; it is better used to lend flavor to a food item. It has a texture like tough grass, so chewing on it can be pretty unpleasant.
Pandan paste, however, is excellent for adding to recipes. Pandan paste is made by grinding fresh pandan leaves into a pulp with a small amount of water. The paste is ready for use after all the fibrous bits and pieces have been removed.
You can also extract the flavor from pandan leaves as an extract or pandan juice. This juice can be used to flavor and sweeten a wide range of food items. You can use it for cupcakes. It can also be cooked with plain rice or enjoyed with ice cream and icing.
Pandan is very versatile. Since you don’t have to use the leaves, you can integrate the extract or juice into any recipe of your choice.
What is the Origin of Pandan? Where Can You Procure it?
Pandan, also known as screwpine, grows successfully in Africa, Asia, Madagascar, India, Indochina, Australia, and the Malaysian tropical forests. It is a very rugged plant that grows even under questionable conditions. It grows on sandy soils, rocky plains, or close to the sea. Pandan can also be grown in volcanic hills, coral reefs, woods, or at the edges of streams, rivers, or swamps.
Pandan can be found in Asian stores or at the local market. If you have trouble getting some, it can be ordered online. Pandan leaves are usually packaged whole or cut into pieces before they are sold.
When picking out a bunch, always check that there are no ice crystals on the leaves. Also, make sure that there are no disheveled or discolored leaves in the bunch. Pandan paste or powder can also be found prepackaged in some stores, but additional ingredients used in the product will mask pandan’s unique flavor.
What is the Best Substitute for Pandan Leaves?
The extract from vanilla beans shares a taste and floral notes similar to that of pandan. If you are looking for a replacement for flavor, vanilla beans work as the best substitute. If you are thinking of a replacement for pandan in savory dishes, collard greens would be the perfect substitute.
Facts You Don’t Know About Pandan
- The Thai people have always relied on pandan leaves for their natural healing abilities. The leaves are believed to be able to help reduce fever. An extract from pandan can also lower blood pressure.
- Pandan is known as the “Vanilla of Asia” in some parts of the world.