Tuesday, September 22, 2009

in search of the pandanus

I have this pandanus craze and I am determine to find that special pandanus Autumn Belle  has been posting about. Yes that one she uses in cooking and baking. I decided to go seek it out  since I have seen pandanus growing wild here on the island. Well I started in the North where I live and came across a Swampy Town sign. In passing I have seen this sign before and always wondered  about it. So I decided to explore,  just maybe I will find some wild pandanus.  I turned left at the Swampy Town sign and continued along  this partially paved road.

There were about four houses along this road so I decided to stop and ask some old timers sitting in their verandah. "Hello there " I shouted from the car, "is this the way to Swampy Town"? The old man replied "this is Swampy Town". I asked "where is the town"?  He laughed and told me that there was never a town. So I asked "where is the swamp then"? He told me that the swamp was not in Swampy Town. So I asked why is the name of this place Swampy Town, he laughed and said that he didn't know that was just how he came and found it . I thanked him and made my way  out and continued looking,  for what? Oh! the Pandanus!

this road looks like it had seen better days  and there was no pandanus to be seen!

this  tall grass looks like sugar cane ,  young sugar cane it is, but where is the pandanus?

So I decided to go in the opposite direction towards the sea and lo and behold I saw  a bunch of weathered pandanus. I looked further and saw more and more. I got out the car and tried tearing a piece to see if it had a smell. The razor sharp spines nearly tore the skin off my fingers, but there was no smell. Autumn Belle.... I am having a problem here. 
So I  a called a Singaporian lady who lives on the island. Yes she has a pandan plant, however some other Malaysians and Singaporians  have asked for plants as well. She had no babies at all, but plan to grow some for all of us. I will ask her to let me just come and get a sniff  so that  I will recognize it whenever I find it.  Tune in same place and same time ....the search continues


  1. Oh you are so adventurous and funny as well. I like your enthusiasm! Yes you are right, Malaysian and Singaporean have the liking for pandan. We acquired the flavour since young. So, for you... happy discovering the flavour. I hope that you would like it as much as we do. Good for cooking desserts :-) Btw, sorry about your finger. I hope it didn't hurt at all. Have a great day!

  2. Truly, it seems, finding a pandan is as difficult (impossible?) as spotting a panda on your lovely island! In southern India the plant is called the basmati plant as it imparts a nice aroma to the cooked rice.

  3. You are a dynamo!! I wish I had your enthusiasm.
    *Urban Green fades into her garden*
    All the best in your search!! Do keep writing on how it goes.

  4. What a hilarious search! I have one, which imparts a nice flavour to the rice, but I don't know whether it is your belle. Good luck with your search.

  5. See what reading blogs can do! LOL! But that one does look the same, right? I have one growing in a pot...the baby was recently gifted to my neighbour. Hope you get yours soon!

  6. Helen, you are really a sweet great adventurer. I admire your spontaneity, my dear Lady Indiana Jones! This one in your picture really looks like real pandan. However, real pandan leaves are not as sharp as the one you have just found. If it cuts, I guess the leaves are as sharp and thin as the lemongrass. I hope you managed to smell if from your friend. If your friend's tree has some branches, that'll be great to cut one off for you but she needs to cut off one that has tiny root nodes growing out, otherwise it is difficult to root. Another way to smell pandan, maybe you can find the pandan essence from the Asian stores. They pack it in bottles like the vanilla essence. Now I'm thinking whether I can mail a dried leaf to you but it cannot be used for cooking. You can only smell it!

  7. You have me cracking up! a very vivid encounter, I can hear the lazy tones of the old man. I look forward to the next amazing trip.

  8. Stephanie....the finger will live and I think I will like the flavour.

    Shailaja....basmati plant? I know and love the basmati rice but didn't know there was a plant with that name.

    Urban Green.....I am fading too in this heat but I vow the search will continue.

    Lotusleaf.....I am like a leech and wouldn't let go until I find it.

    Kanak......yes this is what reading blogs can do to a person. We have heard of mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun, however this West Indian Bajan woman with a few loose screws will leave no stones unturned!

    Autumn Belle .....remember you started this..... and I will finish it to the bitter end. I'll don my straw hat and take to the hills and dales Indiana Jones style!!!

    Julz....only in Barbados you will find a town that is not a town and a swamp that is not a swamp !

  9. Suddenly, I have this idea. Can you find a Thai restaurant in your area? You can ask the chef where did he buy the pandan leaf and if he imported them, ask him to give you some. Do you think this is a good idea?

    Also, if you are looking for the wild pandan, another clue is that the roots are arial i.e you can see some roots growing from the trunk to the ground, like the orchid. There are no fruits and no flowers. Lastly, I really wish you good luck and sincerely hope you won't get hurt like what happened to your finger. Do bring hubby along with you to help around and protect you. Romancing the pandan!

  10. Brilliant idea Autumn Belle! Just the other night hubby and I went to a Thai(something like one) restaurant for dinner. I will ask the owner. Thank you very much.

  11. I hope you find it!


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