Thursday, January 11, 2007


A few months ago, I bought a bottle of "Kewra Water" (Pandanus flower water) from my favorite Indian store...

You can't compare it to "Pandanus Essence/Extract" (made with the leaves of the pandanus plant) as it has a very distinct flavor and tenacious smell that somehow reminds me of incense and rosewater, whereas the delicate flavor of "Pandanus Essence" is close to the one of vanilla, with a subtle herby green touch and a Thai jasmine rice aroma.

I know that it can be used to make sweets (Barfi, etc...) and can also be used in the preparation of savory dishes (Basmati rice, meat, etc...).

I have only experimented with this scented water when making muffins (which turned out fine), but would like to know more about it's use...

I would be very grateful if you could give me recipes, links or tips, because I'm a little out of ideas considering the fact that "Kewra Water" is a very special flavoring.

Thanks a lot!

(Kewra Water -Pic by


  1. You are quite right - kewra water is distilled from male flowers of pandanus odoratissimus and is quite different in character and usage from the leaves of pandanus amaryllifolius. The pandanus variety used for kewra water lacks the fragrancy of this relative.

    Right again on the uses of kewra water - basically as a rose water substitute in rasgulla, ras malai and biryanis (to give fragrancy to the rice). I don't know any other applications, but if you substitute kewra wherever you would use orange or lemon as a fragrance, rather than as a flavour, it should work fine.

    The leaves are used in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia to flavour savoury rice dishes such as nasi kuning.

    Sorry I can't help more. My son and I are really into herbs and spices and I am always attracted by blog postings like this one!

  2. Eh oui, je n'en ai jamais entendu parler non plus...

  3. I've never heard of it either but it sounds very interesting. i haven't seen much indian fod here though so i can't help you.

    Like your blog :)

  4. rosa, i know of the "water" type and the "ittar/ruh" type (the essence/oil). the latter one is extremely strong and you only need a drop or two to flavour things. as far as i know, it is the same thing as the water but in a more concentrated form. [it's also like the difference between rose water and rose essence/khus water & essence].

    kevda/kewra is used in a lot of bengali sweets (rasgoola, pantoa, jalebi, rabri, etc - mostly milk based sweets) as a flavoring and sometimes (the water form) in rice dishes.

    pandan has an amazing smell.

    in southeast asia, it's usually used in leaf form, tied in a knot and thrown in to cook what ever dish is being made. it is used in rice dishes often with coconut milk and turmeric.

    there is also a paste which is green and used in baking in malaysia. it is often used to make a sponge cake which comes out bright green and smelling of pandan. i use a few drops of the essence and some green colouring to approximate it. the water is just not strong enough. of course, if you can get your hands on paste, that would be first choice. i have also used it in shortbread cookies with green colouring. (a variation of green tea/matcha type ones).

  5. SHER: Glad to hear that you've discovered something new...

    MIKE: Thanks for the visit and comment!
    Yes, pandanus flower water has nothing to do with pandanus essence which is widely used in Southeast Asia. Both taste very different.
    Thanks for the tips. That's what I thought...
    It's good to know that both your son and you are spice/herb oriented. I also love spices, flavorings, aromas and herbs! I can't live without such things!!!

    MAMINA: Et bien, on apprend toujours des choses grâce aux blogs des autres ;-P...

    ANONYMOUS: Thanks for you visit and kind comment! I'm very happy to hear that you like my blog. Thanks!

    BUREKABOY: I can quite imagine that the essence/oil one is very strong (very much like all essential oils). I've never seen that version, though.
    Thanks for the informations. I know that many sweets or rice dishes are made with this water, but I haven't tasted any yet. Do you have some recipe to share? That would be great...
    I love pandanus and I regularly make Asian (Thai or Malaysian) desserts with it. Unfortunately, here, I have only been able to find the leaves, the water and the flavoring, but never the paste which I'd love to have in my kitchen :-(((... It is also used to flavor savory rice dishes. Sometimes the leaves are wrapped around meat in order to give it a special flavor.

  6. rosa, they probably have the oil at the indian store you visited if they have a good selection. ask about it, next time. if you have a malaysian or asian market there, you may be able to find the paste frozen.

    i'm lucky where i live, as we have great access to almost everything. hope you can find the items you're after! maybe you should start "rosa's imports" in geneva :))

  7. BUREKABOY: Every time I go there, I always "scan" (with my laser eyes) the whole store, but I haven't seen that oil. Maybe I didn't see it... I'll try asking, but it's very difficult to communicate with the sellers as they don't seem to speak French (only "bonjour", "merci" and "au revoir"). The same goes with the Asian markets, although they speak better French; I didn't find the pandan paste :-(! I'll see if my quest will end successfully ("Qui cherche, trouve.").
    You are indeed very lucky to find everything you need! Yay, I would love to open a kind of delicatessen with all kinds of imports, my dream ;-D!!!...

  8. You can learn more about both Pandanus products (plus names in a plethora of languages) on this page:

  9. I just made and posted a Mughlai Rezala dish which usually uses 1/4 tsp Kewra water. I added Rose water since I didn't have the Kewra water. Try it!:)

  10. Kewra water can be used in a variety of Indian Mughlai and Pakistani dishes ranging from a simple korma to complex biryanis. Usually, a couple of teaspoons are combined with the rest of the ingredients to add flavor.

  11. ANONYMOUS: Thanks for the link!

    ASHA: That sounds interesting! Thanks!

    CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG: Thanks for passing by, for leaving a comment and for the info!

  12. Hi...

    I came across this blog as I was looking to find if I could substitute kewra water for recipes which call for pandan leaves to be boiled together with the savoury dishes. Since you highlighted the difference between the two, does it mean that I should not substitute kewra water for pandan? (I can't find pandan leaves here.:(

    Btw, u can make pandan paste from the leaves. just grind it with a little water. Than extract the juice.

  13. ZARINA: Thanks for passing by! No, you can't substitute kewra water for pandan! It tastes totally different! Thanks for the tip! I have already made my own extract...

  14. I just found this product in one of my local asian store in Belgium. At first, I thought of replacing pandan with it but I have second doubt. Luckily, I found your blog about the Kewra which proved my doubt:-D Guessed I have to stick to Indian delicacies with kewra.

    The Pandan leaves I found in Europe is less fragrant to my liking which mostly imported from Thailand. Pity, I can't bring my pandan plant I planted in my home in Malaysia. I'd already given several pots of the baby plants to my neighbours...

    Thank you for sharing the info :-)

  15. Hi, i was searching for info about Kewra water after i watched a cooking program called Madhur Jaffrey's Flavours of India episode 6. She is a quite well know cook in the UK. She wrote several books about indian food. In this episode she was cookings some lamb dish with joghurt sauce and Kewra water.

  16. ALEXANDRA: Thanks for passing by and for the comment! I love Maddhur Jaffrey's recipes! A lovely dish, I'm sure...

  17. I found your site looking for a definition of Kewra Water, because it was called for in a recipe for Korma curry. I was using a premix from Shan. thanks for your help

  18. ANONYMOUS: Thanks for passing by and for leaving a comment! I'm glad I was able to help... Cheers.

  19. Think of kewra water as you would rose water and orange blossom water - as something which gives a gorgeous scent and sophistication to a dish rather than as a flavouring. It's best suited to cool milky sweets (rice pudding or kheer given a twist with this heavenly scent) or sprinkled over a fruity pulao. Try scenting ice cream with it or a mild flavoured milk shake. Once you've got your nose well and truly into this scent you'll get into the swing of using it.
    BTW for some reason most kewra water and essences tend to be synthetics rather than naturals - wonder why that is when the raw material for it is so common.

  20. ANONYMOUS: It is a great ingredient. Yes, I wonder why most kewra water and essences are synthetic... Cheers.

  21. Here's a recipes you might like

  22. I found you site randomly,feel good that people talk about kewda and are interested in it.The natural kewda products are limited to its local market.