The pandan plant is quite interesting and has many uses. In certain parts of the Visayas region of the Philippines, it is called Romblon …which is also the name of an island / province.
Pandan is a salt tolerant plant and grows by the seashore in Western Pacific Islands. There are many varieties that grow in Malaysia, Indonesia and Hawaii.
In the Philippines, there are over 50 varieties, with some types producing leaves softer and more pliable, depending on where it grows.
Pandan leaves are super fragrant and used as a flavor ingredient and as green food coloring in Filipino Cuisine.
In addition to the Filipino cooks, the Thais, Vietnamese, and Malaysians use pandan leaves in their cuisines. Though most uses are for desserts such as custards, puddings and gelatin, there are other recipes I would like to try including pandan-wrapped fried chicken (from Thailand-wow!).
Pandan is also an ingredient for teas and other herbal concoctions.
Many cultures weave pandan leaves into useful items like
- sleeping mats
- small bags
- backpacks and market totes
- boxes and other containers
- place mats
Below are some pandan /romblon product examples, produced by Native Leaf.
What a multi-purpose plant indeed!
Here is a picture I took of two friends collecting romblon leaves for their own projects.
There are small islands in the Philippines whose economy is tied to picking, drying and selling romblon leaves. More on this topic next time…
In the meantime, let me know if you know of other uses for this interesting plant.