Pandan is the Indonesian and Tagalog word for (Pandanus amaryllifolius), also known as screw pine, umbrella tree, or ban ya le in Chinese. Fresh pandan leaves are used as an aromatic herb in many Asian dishes. The leaves are also processed to produce an extract (essence of pandan), usually with green food coloring added, used if fresh pandan is not available. The aroma is lost when the leaves are dried.
It is most often found boiled with rice, to enhance its flavor; three or four leaves is usually enough to flavor a large pot. Rice can also be steamed in small boxes or baskets woven from pandan leaves;
(binalot in Tagalog, but also popular in Indonesia and Malaysia) this produces a fragrant rice which can be eaten on its own or alongside meat or fish.
In Thailand, it is used to wrap meat, especially in gai ob bai toey, pieces of seasoned chicken wrapped with pandanus (bai toey in Thai) leaves.
It is also used to complement the caramel flavor of the Filipino taho and gulaman beverages, in fresh coconut milk, and is sometimes added to Chinese tea. It can be found as a component in many Asian sweets (especially those prepared using glutinous rice), including the Filipino suman and puto, as well as other sweet Indonesian, Thai, and Malaysian treats.
Many facts taken from Gernot Katzer's Spice Dictionary