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When preparing Sri Lankan cuisine (especially curries) one of the key components is the Pandan Leaf (also known as a Pandanus Leaf).

These aren't readily available where I live so I was wondering if anyone could suggest an alternative?

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4 Answers 4

Perhaps flavors similar to Indian curries and Asian dishes, such as cilantro, Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, or celery leaves.

I also just read a recipe that suggested bay leaf would be an appropriate substitute.

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Pandanus (a.k.a Kewra) has a rather sweet/flowery smell. I would not recommend substituting bay or celery leaves. I would not recommend any of these substitutions for sweet desserts that rely on pandanus/kewra (to be fair, I haven't used kaffir lime leaves, so maybe those could work). Rose essence will get you closer to the flowery notes of Kewra. Making your own saffron extract may get you something with a (vaguely) similar sweet/flowery note. – S. Burt Nov 4 at 18:17

If you plan more of this cooking in the future, you can order extract. The aroma is subtle and savory. It is similar to that of jasmine rice or fresh-baked white bread. The leaf is frequently used in combination with coconut milk for sweet curries and desserts.

The Pandan Leaf (Pandanus amaryllifolius) is actually used in a wide range of Southeast Asian and South Asian cuisine. The flavor seems to derive from one specific aroma compound (abbr. 2AP). Interestingly, the Maillard reaction that is responsible for browning during baking produces an analog of the compound.

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There are enough Sri Lankans live in UK. Therefore, you should be able to find this in a Sri Lankan store (or in an Indian store). This is known as "Rampe" in Sri Lanka. Ask for "Ram-pe" when you visit such a store.

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If you have an indian market nearby, you can get kewra extract/essence. Kewra is the indian name for pandanus plant and kewra essence is featured in a number of indian desserts. I don't recall seeing kewra leaves in my local indian market, but I use kewra essence regularly. (Careful, sometimes it's sold as a very concentrated oil extract and sometimes as the more dilute kewra water; so how much you need to add will depend on which form of kewra you buy).

Not too long ago, I made a Thai custard (usually served with sticky rice) that called for pandanus extract. It was researching where to purchase that when I discovered that I already had it in my cupboard. Great stuff.

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