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The Nigella Lawson effect is nothing to ignore: the televised release of her avocado toast recipe is rumored to have increased sales of the fruit by 30 percent. So it’s no surprise that a recent mention of pandan, a sweet-smelling green leaf native to southeast Asia, as her prediction for "the next food trend" is garnering considerable attention.
“I think it’s going to be the new matcha,” she told the Times. “I don’t know where it is in [England] yet. But I notice more and more people in America baking with pandan essence.”
The leaf emits a sweet, vanilla-like aroma and figures in many dishes across South and Southeast Asia. Its signature fragrance lends itself well to desserts. Pandan also takes the form of a paste or, like banana leaves or corn husks, can be used to wrap bundles of meat. Pandan’s sweetness lends itself particularly well to rice. Some chefs infuse water, ice creams, or cake doughs with an extract of its floral flavor.
Why, however, pandan needs to be the new anything is quite beyond me. Avocados, matcha, and pandan are all their own ingredients; they each have their own particular histories, usages, and communities who cook with them. To compare one to another and place them on some imagined trajectory feels silly. So, here's to pandan and its multitude of uses. And even a couple of our site's recipes that call for it:
Have any of you ever tasted or cooked with pandan leaves? If so, let us know your experience in the comments.