‘I brew pandan leaf tea whenever I’m unwell, but I’m having trouble finding them in supermarkets these days. Now, I don’t know what to do!’
Well, sometimes, when pandan leaves are not in season, they may get pricey, or you may not find them in-store, and during such times, you can use their substitute.
There are various replacements for pandan leaves, but it all depends on what you want to use them for. And in this post, we’ve listed a total of eight of the top alternatives for you to choose from.
Not only that, but we’ve covered a variety of health advantages and how to preserve them in season and more.
What are some of the leading substitutes for pandan leaves?
Check out some amazing options that can flawlessly work in place of pandan leaves.
1. Vanilla beans
Vanilla beans and pandan leaves have a lot in common that you might not know a lot about. Thus, you can replace them with pandan leaves.
Speaking of vanilla first, it is an orchid plant fruit that is grown into a dark shade of brown pod. The beans are versatile, are nearly 6-12 inches long, and bear ample tiny seeds that linger on the wall surface.
The flavor of vanilla is immersed in vanillin (an organic compound). You can smell it only when the pods are damaged. Isn’t it a true piece of broken but beautiful thing?
The vanilla taste evolves from sticky resin around the seeds as well as the wall surface.
These beans can be purchased whole or discarded, but many people opt for the vanilla extract version, which is less expensive.
One can utilize these capsules to give the food vanilla flavors. You can use it in sauce, ice cream, frosting, and beverages to bring the taste and essence of the pandan leaf into your dish.
2. Matcha tea
Recently, matcha has gained a lot of popularity in culinary shops and health stores. Matcha tea is pretty famous and is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. It is, however, grown differently and has a distinct nutritional profile.
Farmers cover their tea plants 20–30 days before harvest to avoid direct sunlight. This boosts amino acid content and provides the plant with a stronger green hue by increasing chlorophyll production.
After harvesting, the leaves, stems, and veins are plucked out, and finally, it is grounded into a fine powder that is matcha.
Fun fact: Matcha has more caffeine and antioxidants than green tea since it contains the minerals from the complete tea leaf.
You can use matcha tea for several health benefits. Moreover, it offers a rich flavor profile that includes mild vegetable grassy taste, natural sweet nuttiness, a little bit bitter, and a savory finish.
It is the superman of all beverages. It helps to boost your brain as it consists of caffeine and L-theanine.
Several heart disease risk factors can be reduced using this. Plus, it is a great drink for all those people out there who are looking to lose some fats.
Have you tried lemon and ginger tea? Well, if not then, you must try these drops of heavens.
Ginger is a spice that can also be used in place of pandan leaves in teas and juices. It carries a sweet and peppery taste. But, while substituting, make sure to pick only small young gingers.
Well, ginger is the root part of a plant that is loaded with lots of medicinal benefits.
While traveling, if you feel nausea, then you can keep a ginger slice in your mouth. It aids nausea management in the brain and nerve system. Plus the substances appear to function in the stomach and intestines.
For all the women out there, using ginger during your menstrual days can help to alleviate cramps.
Next, you can exchange cilantro with pandan leaves in your recipe. It is a fragrant herb typically used in Central America, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines.
Just like pandan leaves, cilantro leaves are also versatile. You can use them in soups, salsa, and stews in every recipe that calls for pandan leaves flavor and taste.
5. Collard greens
You can try collard green in place of pandan leaves; the collard green has lots of green leaves and strong stems.
It is widely known in southern cuisines. Generally, people associate them with kale and cabbages. You can also try them in soups and braises.
The taste of these greens is harsh and has a rough texture. However, when they are moistened and heated, they become soft, and the bitterness is reduced.
Just like pandan leaves, these greens also have health benefits. It has calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, folate, and vitamins A, K, B2, B6, and C.
6. Celery leaves
Celery leaves are very underrated veggies, but they are wonderful. Its leaves can give a greener look to your dish. One can use its leaves and stalks, plus you can also substitute them for pandan leaves.
It is overloaded with many nutrients and has a tasty flavor. It will offer you vitamin C, A, iron, and magnesium to alleviate problems like anemia. You can add them to your stocks, soups, and any sauces.
The presence of sodium in greens helps people who suffer from arthritis. Also, if you have indigestion or insomnia, these leaves can work wonders for you.
Note: Stalks of celery have more health benefits than leaves.
7. Pandan leaves essence
Many manufacturers produce pandan leaves essence, and you can also use them as an alternative in your juice, soups, cake, and pastries. The essence will give you the same flavor as pandan leaves.
If available in the store, you can also look for pandan leaves powder, paste, or frozen leaves.
8. Banana leaves
If your recipe calls for wrapping chicken pieces or fish in pandan leaves for steam, then you can always substitute them with banana leaves.
It will also help to give your chicken a tasty grassy flavor. Plus, it is also loaded with health benefits. It transfers antioxidants named polyphenols which help diabetes risk, improve heart health, and carry anti-cancer properties.
You can also wrap chicken and grill them. The green color will turn into brown when you cook, and it will transfuse a pleasant smoky flavor in your chicken.
What are pandan leaves, and in which cuisines is it used?
Pandan leaves are aromatic plants that carry a sweet and floral scent. It is a versatile leaf that has a spiky body. It can also produce fruits, and you may find it similar to red-orange pinecones.
It is widely utilized in Southeast Asian dishes. You can also use them in your dishes as it has many health benefits like it is ideal for constipation, cold, and flu. You can learn more about the health benefits in this article further.
If you add these leaves to your dish, you can feel a grassy vanilla flavor with some touch of coconut flesh.
Well, you cannot directly eat pandan leaves, but a lot of Southeast Asian people use them in their cuisines. You can also use them in sweet and savory dishes.
Wrap in the skin or put them in rice. You can add its extract to your sweet juice or simply wrap all your meat in the leaves and let it steam; it will easily transfer its aroma and nutrients into the dish.
But, what are all those healthy nutrients? Well, you can learn them in the next section.
Why are pandan leaves essential in your diet?
Using pandan leaves in your daily diet can have many health benefits. It is often used in paste, powder, or infused water extract. Some people love them as essential oil because it has many benefits.
1. Boost your vision:
It is enriched with vitamin A, which helps your eyes from damage. Using these leaves can offer good eyesight.
2. Help people with arthritis issues:
These versatile leave are absolutely fabulous in working as pain killers, primarily when it boils down to joint pains. According to some researchers, its oil has phytochemicals that are great for arthritis patients. If you have a frequent headache, you can use its oil to reduce pain.
3. Good for diabetes:
If you have some pandan leaves dishes, it can help you to alleviate blood sugar levels. Although it is not very sure, some researchers say you can reduce your blood sugar level if you have some pandan leaves tea after your lunch or dinner.
4. Makes your skin flawless:
Well, everybody wants beautiful, flawless skin in their life to flaunt, and using pandan leaves can help you to do so.
The crushed pandan leaves were used for all skin problems in Southeast Asia. You can use them for minor burns and even for sunburn.
5. It has vitamins and minerals:
The extract of pandan leaves works wonders because it is full of antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin. It will assist in making your immune system robust.
Do you want to know how you can store these leaves when they are in season? Well, you can learn them in the next section.
How do you store them when they are in season?
If you want to store these leaves for 3-4 fours days, you can use a damp paper napkin, wrap all leaves inside it, and keep them in your fridge.
If you are looking for long-term preservation, it can also be frozen. You have to keep them in a single layer of the baking sheet and put them in the freezer.
And, when you need it, you can unlock the zip and add it to your dish. This trick can help to preserve leaves for at least 6 months.
The pantry can be used to store dried leaves, paste, extract, and powder. The paste and extract created at home should be stored in a refrigerator for one to three weeks.
Well, that’s a wrap!
There are many options if you are running out of pandan leaves. But, not every alternative can work for all your recipes. Each alternative has its different use.
Like you can use banana leaves for wrapping chicken and fish. You can try cilantro, celery, and collard greens in stocks, soups, and stews. Then you can use matcha tea or ginger for preparing juice and beverages.
If you know any other alternative that is not mentioned on our list, do let us know in the comments.
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.