Doesn’t pandan sound unfamiliar to us?
There are innumerable multi-purpose plants that have inflated demand in the market due to their versatility. Pandan is one such plant whose fruits and leaves have nutritive and therapeutic value. By the end of this article, you will be astonished by the benefits of the magic pandan and its products.
What is Pandan?
Pandanus amaryllifolius, commonly known as pandan, is a tropical screwpine plant known for its fragrant, blade-like leaves and pinecone-shaped fruits. There are many other varieties of pandan that differ from each other in leaf structure and fruit color.
Pandan is cultivated in South-east Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Malaysians use pandan as a flavoring agent, natural coloring agent, cooking ingredient, insect repellent, air freshener, and token of love.
Nutrients in Pandan fruit:
Every part of the pandan plant is known for its specific nutrients.
100 grams of pandan leaf paste contains:
- 321 calories
- 78 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.2 grams of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- Sufficient amounts of fiber, iron, calcium, and phosphorus
100 grams pandan fruit is packed with:
- 85 calories
- 17 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.3 grams of protein
- 0.7 grams of fat
- 13% of the daily value of fiber
What does pandan taste like?
Though the fruit looks weird, pandan is known for its unique flavor and floral aroma. The pandan fruit and pandan leaves are edible and are usually boiled and ground into paste form for consumption.
Pandan leaves possess a grassy vanilla kind of taste with a tinge of coconut. The darker the color of the leaf is, the deeper the flavor is. The enticing flavor of pandan makes it an integral part of South-east Asian cuisine.
Though pandan leaves possess a sweet taste, pandan extract obtained by concentrating the pandan juice possesses a bitter taste.
Health benefits of Pandan:
Every part of the pandan plant is beneficial to our health. Pandan tea made from the roots and leaves of pandan helps to treat cramps, chest pain, headaches, and earaches.
- Relieves arthritis pain:
Arthritis is the swelling or inflammation of one or more body joints that cause pain and stiffness in the bones. The anti-inflammatory properties and the phytochemicals present in pandan leaves relieves arthritis pain. It is usually applied along with coconut oil to ease headaches.
- Controls blood sugar levels:
Drinking a cup of pandan tea after a meal manages the blood sugar levels. Studies show that people who drank pandan tea after lunch had lower blood sugar than the people who drank hot water.
- Prevents heart diseases:
Pandan leaf consists of carotenoids such as beta-carotene that augment your heart health. Carotenoids are antioxidants that reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries narrow due to plaque buildup.
- Enhances oral hygiene:
Pandan leaves are known for their sweet-smelling fragrance. When pandan leaves are chewed, it unleashes a strong scent that can refresh your breath. You can use these leaves instead of chemical-loaded artificial mouth fresheners.
- Cools the skin:
Ayurvedic studies have proved that crushed pandan leaves can treat sunburns and other skin disorders. The leaves contain ample amounts of tannic acid that has a cooling effect on the skin. The tannic acid rejuvenates the weak skin cells and revitalizes the inflamed spots.
Uses of Pandan and its products:
- In cooking:
Being called the “vanilla of South-east Asia”, pandan is extensively used in Malaysian and Thai cuisine.
Usually, a pandan leaf is tied into a knot and added to the rice to be cooked. When the rice boils, it absorbs the sweet aroma of pandan and hence tastes delicious. In India, it is called the “Annapurna” leaf and is used to enhance the flavor of pulao, biryani, and coconut rice.
Heard of Pandan Chicken? Marinated chicken is wrapped in pandan leaves and is fried until the leaves turn brown. These leaves not only add fragrance to the chicken but also make the chicken soft and juicy by retaining moisture. Many other snack varieties are also prepared by wrapping pandan leaves around them.
Pandan juice extracted from the leaves is relished as a drink in most countries. The concentrated green pandan extract is used as natural food colors in cakes and desserts. It is also a good substitute for coconut milk and vanilla essence in some desserts.
- Air freshener and perfumes:
Every time we go shopping, we look for air fresheners that can perk up our mood and the environment. Pandan leaves are natural air fresheners and are used to freshen cars and bedrooms. The strong scent of pandan makes it a high demand in perfume industries.
- Token of love:
It is a human quality to express love in unique ways to make their partner feel loved. Pandan leaves are folded into shapes of flowers and are presented as good-smelling bouquets. Writing letters on pandan leaves has also been a romantic approach.
Home-made pandan juice recipe:
Due to its rich flavor and fragrance, pandan is used in the preparation of desserts. Pandan juice is highly nutritious and is consumed by a huge number of people. The recipe is as easy as ABC and you will be able to prepare it in a few steps if you already have a pandan plant at home. If you do not have the pandan plant, take time to find a store that sells pandan. Finding a store that sells pandan in India is back-breaking, but the benefits are worth the quest.
Here are the steps to prepare a glass of fresh pandan juice:
1. Choose the right leaves:
Pandan plant has a rosette of deep green matured leaves and light green young leaves. Pandan juice made from matured leaves taste better and are healthier than the juvenile ones. Therefore, pick 10 to 15 matured leaves carefully using scissors as the pandan leaves are sharp and blade-like.
2. Trim and rinse the leaves:
Trim the sharp apex and the white base of the leaves. Wash the leaves properly in lukewarm water to get rid of dirt and germs.
3. Procedure to prepare the juice:
- Cut each leaf into very small pieces of one to two centimeters, and put them in a blender.
- Add 150-200 ml of water to the umpteen pandan pieces in the blender. You can add the required amount of coconut milk instead of water for an enhanced flavor.
- Blend it for about a minute until you get a perfectly ground juice.
- The blended extract contains a large mass of pandan pulp that cannot be consumed. Hence, pour the mixture into a strainer or muslin cloth, strain all the juice out leaving the pulp behind.
- Your pandan juice is ready!