Kiribati is a rather unusual country geographically. It is a very poor island nation located in the center of the Pacific ocean comprised of 32 atolls and one coral island, dispersed over an area of 3.5 million square kilometers(!), with a permanent population of only about 100,000. It used to be called Gilbert islands and Kiribati is a local adaptation of the name. Until 1979 it belonged to the United Kingdom. Because Kiribati is near the international date line, it is the first country to “see” a new day – but sadly iti is expected to be the first country in which all land territory disappears due to global climate change. A mass evacuation to Fiji has been planned.
Pandan is a spice very popular in Thailand, Indonesia and some other countries in that region, especially in flavoring sweet dishes. If you see an Asian dessert which is green, it’s probably from pandan (I believe pandan itself only adds a faint green, but pandan extracts tend to include green coloring as well). Some describe its flavour as a bit-vanilla like and floral, but it says something that it smells exactly like jasmine rice (which is called pandan rice here in the Netherlands).
This recipe from the Global Table Adventure blog was my first time cooking with pandan, which I found in Chinatown. It was okay, but I wasn’t terribly excited about it, more bland than very aromatic. I think you could probably use more than five pandan leaves. I hate peeling raw pumpkin, so I quickly roasted it first.
Coconut pandan pumpkin
5 cups/1.2 l cubed kabocha pumpkin (or some other pumpkin)
1 can coconut milk (400 ml/15 oz)
1/3-1/2 cup/0.8-1.2 dl sugar
5 fresh or frozen pandan leaves, or more to taste
Peel and cube the pumpkin (it’s much easier to peel if you cut it into large chunks first and roast for 15 minutes in the oven). Tie the pandan leaves into a knot. Add all the ingredients into a pot.
Bring to boil and simmer until the pumpkin is soft (but preferably still chunky instead of mushy, as mine turned out), about 20 minutes, depending on whether you roasted it first, of course.
Serve as a dessert, hot or cold. Note that the coconut oil tends to set grainily when it cools, so it will look much better if served right away.