The Pandanus amaryllifolius or simply pandan plant is a tropical plant that eventually grows into a palm-like tree, hence the name screw palm. It is rare in the wild, but is widely cultivated as a seasoning for Southeast Asian dishes. The plant also called pandan wangi (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, annapruna in India, Rampé in Sria Lanka and pulao pata in Bangladesh.
Use in dishes
The leaves, fresh or dried, are mainly used in South East Asian cuisines for their aroma, they give a somewhat nutty taste.
To convey the flavour of the pandan plant leaves, there are several methods in use:
- Bundled and cooked, so that they can be easily removed or, first soaked in coconut milk, which is then added to the dish later.
- The leaves can also be processed into a basket in which the rice is then boiled or steamed.
- In a Thai chicken dish, the chicken is wrapped in the leaves and then cooked.
- Sri Lankan dishes use it along with curry leaves.
- In India, it’s used to flavor rice and pithas.
- In the Maldives, in enhances the flavor of pulao, biryani and sweet coconut rice pudding.
- In the Philippines, it’s used in several coconut milk based dishes, as well as in a dessert called buko pandan.
Another well-known pandan-flavoured dish is pandan cake – a very airy sponge cake that originally derives its light green color from the chlorophyll from the juice of the fresh pandan leaves used, but nowadays it is usually made extra green with food coloring – partly because instead of fresh leaves it is often colorless pandan plant extract is used.
As you can see, Pandan plant leaves are used in many countries, especially in rice dishes, desserts and cakes.
All kinds of positive properties are attributed to the plant, such as a healing effect against all kinds of tropical problems, anti-viral effect, anti-allergen, anti-inflammatory, etc. The Pandan plant also finds use as a raw material for medicinal products and sometimes also has a religious meaning. Studies have even proofed the repellent activity against American cockroaches. (1)
Pandan plant leaves also possess a pleasant aroma and can also be used as a natural air freshener.
In Oceania, the plant, along with other varieties, is used much more widely than just in cooking and parts other than the leaves are also used as building material for homes, raw material for clothes and textiles or decorations, and used to make fishing tools. (2)
How to take care of a Pandan plant?
The pandan plant is a tropical plant, and is not hardy in almost all parts of Europe. It should serve as a houseplant indoors from mid September, not below 15°C and well in the light. From the end of May to the beginning of September, the plants can be placed outside in a semi-shady spot.
The plant loves humidity, so it will benefit from the use of a humidity tray.
How to propagate a Pandan plant?
Propagation is done through separating shoots that emerge from the soil, or through removing aerial offshoots. For more information on propagating a pandan plant check this link.
To ensure that it’s delivered in perfect condition, your curry leaf plant will be shipped in custom plant mail-order cardboard packaging.
Questions and answers
- Do I need to repot the plant when it arrives?
Answer: after a few weeks of acclimatization, you can repot it to a slightly bigger bot. When you do repot, do so during the growing season (May-September).
- What soil do I use for my Pandan plant?
Answer: curry leaf plants thrive in a wide variety of soil types. You can use any regular good-quality potting mix.
- Is fertilizer recommended?
Answer: pandan plants don’t need fertilizers to thrive, but several studies have shown that fertilizers can boost growth. If you choose to use a fertilizer, we recommend that you use a liquid fertilizer for your pandan plant.
- Why are the lower branches and leaves dying and falling off?
Answer: this is normal. As the pandan plant grows, it will naturally shed old leaves and branches.