Screwpine or Pandan

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Screwpine is the aromatic, strap-like leaf of shrubs related to the lily family that are native to Indonesia (species of Pandanus). Screwpine leaves are used in India and southeast Asia to flavor rice dishes and sweets, and to wrap meats and fish. Their primary volatile compound is the same one that gives basmati and jasmine rices their distinctive nutty aroma (2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, which is also prominent in the aroma of popcorn and of crabmeat). The screwpine flower is also aromatic and the source of a more perfume-like extract called kewra, which flavors many Indian milk sweets.