Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

pandanus, though largely unknown to cooks and chefs in the West, is an important flavoring and coloring ingredient in the sweets repertoire of South and Southeast Asia, from India to the Philippines.

Pandanus is a genus of flowering trees and shrubs that includes over 600 species of tropical and subtropical plants native to Asia. Pandanus amarillifolius (formerly Pandanus odoratissimus), usually called “pandan” or “screwpine” in English, is the species that provides cooks with pandan leaves (bai toei in Thai, daun pandan in Malay, pandan in Tagalog, sleuk toey in Khmer, la dura in Vietnamese, rampe in Sinhala, and su mwei ywe in Burmese). The leaves give a delicate scent and flavor reminiscent of basmati rice, with hints of rosewater and vanilla. They also lend an attractive light green tint.