Pandan (Pandanus Amaryllifolius) is the common name for one of the smallest members in the Pandanaceae family, that stands out for its culinary use.
Pandan ‘Bai Toey’ in Thai is used vastly in cooking mainly for its grassy fragrance, but also for the natural green food coloring properties and lastly for its fibrous leaves that can be used to wrap food.
You probably ran into Asian desserts with vivid green color and wondered why would anybody use such an artificial looking color to dye food. Well it not artificial at all, as it is the pandan chlorophyll extraction that dyes the food. In addition the pandan’s attractive vanilla like scent is what makes it a desired ingredient in desserts such as cakes, custards, sweet sticky rice and ‘Lod Chong’ noodles.
Pandan leaves are also used to scent rice, soups and grill dishes. Only us the natural pandan leaves, look for fresh or frozen leaves that are sold in Asian groceries and avoid artificial pandan substitutes.