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Nigella Lawson has named the Southeast Asian leaf, pandan as the ‘trendiest’ ingredient for 2018. In this blog post, we look into what it is and three ways you can incorporate pandan into your restaurant menu.

Nigella Lawson has declared that the sweet Southeast Asian leaf, 'pandan' is currently her favourite leaf to cook with. Ever the culinary trendsetter, Lawson’s previous penchant for avocado on toast prompted a 30% rise in avocado sales - so it’s no surprise that her recent declaration of love for pandan has lead food industry experts to pre-empt a spark in its popularity!

In this blog post, we’re going to take look at what pandan is, as well as share three tempting ways to take advantage of this exotic food trend in your own restaurant menu.

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What is pandan?

Pandan is a sweet-tasting, Southeast Asian leaf that threatens to snag the title of ‘trendiest ingredient’ from the likes of matcha and avocado. The leaves are taken from the herbaceous tropical ‘pandanus’ plant, also known as the ‘screwpine’ plant due to its spiral tufts of long, narrow leaves.

What does pandan taste like?

The pandan leaf has a sweet flavour that’s not dissimilar to vanilla, and is commonly used as a flavouring for desserts and drinks. Nonetheless, pandan has also been known to frequent savoury dishes such as rice or wraps, in the form of a paste. It also adds a distinctive green hue to the dish.

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Though pandan leaves have long been used to flavour authentic Southeast Asian dishes, its introduction to British palates has only picked up in recent years, with more experimental restaurants adding the leaves to pancakes and ice cream.

What are the health benefits of pandan?

While the real appeal of pandan is its flavour, pandan leaves are said to have a mirage of health benefits with research suggesting that this sweet leaf can heal sunburn, repel insects, reduce stress and even blacken hair! Other studies propose that this aromatic plant has the capacity to lower blood pressure and relieve stomach cramps thanks to its laxative properties. So perhaps use it in your cooking with moderation!

How to incorporate pandan into your restaurant menu

If you happen to have a Thai, Vietnamese or Southeast Asian grocery store nearby, then you’re in luck! Typically located in the freezer aisle of these stores, pandan can be stored for weeks, or even months, in the freezer. Alternatively, you can order fresh pandan leaves from specialist suppliers.

Here are three tastebud-tempting ways that you can add a taste of pandan to your restaurant menu.

1. Pandan curry

Pandan is an excellent ingredient for an aromatic curry, and just adding a couple of leaves can evoke a distinctive, nutty flavour. Pandan works particularly well in Malaysian curries.

2. Pandan ice cream

Instantly invigorate this traditional dessert by mixing fresh pandan with coconut milk, making for a light yet indulgent ice cream dessert with an exotic twist!

3. Pandan cocktail

Pandan can be used in drinks and alcoholic tipples to offset citrus tones, or add depth to a spirit. Simply add fresh leaves to a bottle of any base spirit for up to 48 hours and you’re good to go! Alternatively, blending the leaves with syrup and experimenting with your own cocktail recipe is a must, to really take advantage of pandan’s distinctive flavour.

We hope you’ve found this blog post useful, and you’re looking forward to putting pandan to the test! Don’t forget to stock up on quality kitchen equipment to bring your creations to life, and read up on upcoming food trends to inspire you for the year ahead.


Lockhart Catering on 26 January 2018 12:00 AM

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