What is Pandan?

The pandan leaf (also known as screw-pine plant) is widely used over much of South East Asia in both sweet and savoury dishes. It is a tropical plant from the genus Pandanus that is related to the lily family. The pandan leaf is long and thin (about 40cm long x 2cm wide) and has a variety of uses alongside food flavouring and colouring, such as air freshener and can even be woven into bags and mats.

The leaves themselves have a very mild scent while growing on the plant, but once harvested and crushed or cut, the leaves release a characteristic aroma sometimes likened to a mixture of almonds and vanilla.

Many western sources have referenced pandan extract as an ‘Asian vanilla’. However, such comparisons may cause confusion around the flavour to expect, as well as cause some mild irritation in some Asian cookery circles. It has been commented that ‘pandan leaves are to vanilla what silk is to cotton’.

At Pandan Bakery we use pandan leaves to give our bake goods a subtle and unique natural flavour. It also means our cakes can have a beautiful distinct green colouring. We are sure that once you taste pandan, you’ll be hooked!