Pandanus amaryllifolius; රම්පෙ

Scented pandan is a perennial herb originating from Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, where its leaves have long been used to both colour and flavour local dishes. Like other Pandanus, it develops a slender, semi-woody stem topped with a crown of long sword-shaped leaves and may reach heights of up to 8 m ( 26 ft) if left unmanaged. In the home garden, plants are kept between 0.5 and 1.5 m (1.6 and 5 ft) tall by repeatedly harvesting the leaves. The stem is light brown and marked by leaf scars but is hardly visible in young plants, having not yet developed. It is spirally wrapped by the leaves, which are dark green, sword-shaped and up to 1 m (3 ft) long. As the plant ages, the stem grows taller and upright, lifting the leaves high above the ground. At the same time, aerial roots arise along the length, and those near the base grow stilt-like, anchoring the plant in the soil. Scented pandan is not known to flower and fruit in cultivation and instead regenerates from root suckers.

Uses of Pandanus amaryllifolius:

Scented pandan is a commonly cultivated plant in Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka for its leaves, which are harvested when young and added to dishes to impart their sweet, musky, somewhat nutty aroma. They are mostly added to steamed rice, curry dishes, and desserts, particularly those incorporating coconut milk.

Usually, one or two leaves are tied in a knot and added to the rice water, curry sauce or dessert mixture at the start of the cooking process. Then when the cooking is finished, they are removed and discarded. In Thailand, the leaves are also used to wrap pieces of marinated chicken and fish into parcels which are then deep-fried or are first steamed, then deep-fried and served with a spicy dipping sauce.

A green food colouring is made by cutting and crushing or blending the leaves with water. It has everyday use in colouring cakes, jellies and puddings served up in bakeries and sweet shops in India and Southeast Asia. The bright green, long and slender leaves also lend themselves to floral arrangements, particularly tall arrangements, as backing greenery or accent foliage. Scented pandan is sometimes planted in garden beds as a groundcover or fragrant border.

【Text by Lakpura™. Images by Google, copyright(s) reserved by original authors.】