Thursday 19 October 2017

Pandan is top of the crops for superfood fans!

Green food has turned over a new leaf. We’ve long been obsessed with avocado. Matcha’s green-tea goodness bewitched us too. This autumn, though, it’s all about pandan. That’s the South-East Asian leaf painting London emerald. 
It has a sweet, vanilla-like taste (it’s called “sweet plant” in Chinese) and the capital’s chefs are calling it “the next big flavour trend”, using it in everything from curries and pretzels to custard. Nigella Lawson endorsed the leaf this week, predicting it’ll be “the new matcha” and Farang Thai restaurant in Highbury, which already has pandan custard, is planning a pandan espresso martini.
At The Golden Gate Cake shop in Soho customers are drawn in by the bright green pandan chiffon cakes and swiss rolls in the window, while vegan cake supplier Honey & Date, which supplies Selfridges and Whole Foods among others, has bright green coconut and pandan raw cakes.
Pandan gives off a botanical fragrance, explains founder Carmen Ngan, who says the cakes are a “best-seller”. It’s also believed to relieve indigestion and lower blood pressure. The green colour lets bakers can get creative: Butterscotch Bakery in Shepherd’s Bush is using pandan buttercream for its Halloween cupcakes to give them a spooky look without artificial flavourings. Baker Bea Vo has always eaten pandan in desserts thanks to her Vietnamese-American background and says the taste brings a welcome nostalgia. “The notes in it are quite warm, woodsy, vanilla-like, pleasant and mild. It’s definitely the next big flavour trend.” 
Custard is a popular pandan pairing: at Wunderbunz in Hammersmith you can buy a pretzel filled with coconut custard infused with pandan. But it’s not just for cakes: Melur London in Edgware Road uses pandan in pancakes. And it can be savoury too: at Chi Kitchen in Debenhams Oxford Street pandan is used to give fragrance to the rice. Meanwhile, at Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers in Soho, the pandan leaf features across the menu from the Jaffna lamb chops to the Ceylonese spit chicken. Pandan leaf is a “staple” in Hoppers’ curries, says co-founder Karam Sethi. It’s used to add flavour to the base, and mixed with onion, cinnamon, garlic and curry leaf for spice. “This is just the beginning of pandan’s popularity,” he says. Better be-leaf it.

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