Pandan Leaves Pandanus Amaryllifollus/Screwpine – (In Thai Bai Toey Hom) Thailand’s most capacious herb
You have probably seen Pandan growing everywhere in Thailand yet probably not event noticed it or known about the multiple uses in Thai cuisine or it’s part in Thai culture. In some ways, it is almost everything to the people of Thailand as a natural food flavouring, colouring, insect repellent, air freshener, wrapping for food and even as a token for love.
Pandan is a herbaceous tropical plant, a true cultigen that can only be re-produced through suckers or cuttings. The characteristic aroma is caused by the aroma compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline found in it’s leaves. It contains nourishing essential oils including glycosides, alkaloids and traces of tannin and isoprene esters. This flavour provides jasmine rice and basmati rice their unique fragrances.
Used extensively in cooking, Pandan provides light green colouring and a sweet flavour. Four extensively in Thai desserts and soft drinks it is a staple diet or most Thai homes.
Pandan has been appreciated for centuries for it’s health benefits as an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants which help to boost the immune system, chest pains, cramps, spasms headaches and to lower blood pressure. Pandan is also known for reducing uric acid thus relieving or even eliminating gout. Either as Pandan water or as Pandan tea, the health benefits are extensive
As a token of love, Pandan leaves are woven into an intricate pattern to look like roses and then make a bouquet to present to their loved ones. I guess that instant messaging is replacing this for the younger generations!
Kim Waddoup enjoyed a lifetime in the tourism business and is an active ‘Silver-Ager” living in Thailand. He writes for his age group with high varied articles covering subjects relevant to retirees living in, or visiting Thailand.
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