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Long, flat, emerald–green pandanus leaves are used for their colour and fragrance and as a food container—which also imparts flavour—in Southeast Asian cooking, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. The leaves are crushed and added to dishes such as rice or curries during cooking or tied in a knot so they fit easily into the pot, then removed before the dish is served. Another way to impart the appealing fragrance is to wrap the leaves around pieces of meat or fish whilst marinating or grilling. For colouring (Malaysian and Indonesian sweets for example), the leaves are boiled and the colour extracted. Pandanus leaves are sold in bundles and are available both dried and frozen. Dried ones lack the intensity of flavour and the frozen leaf is much less fragranced. Pandanus leaf essence, called bai toey in Indonesia, is a brilliantly coloured fragrant flavouring used in cakes and sweet dishes. Vanilla extract is an acceptable substitute in sweet dishes.
Also known as — kewra, pandan, screwpine