Thai Pandan Leaf Chicken Recipe (Gai Haw Bai Toey)

Thai Pandan Leaf Chicken (Gai Haw Bai Toey)

Thai Pandan Leaf Chicken (Gai Haw Bai Toey)

Thai Pandan Leaf Chicken is a very popular dish from Thailand. Lightly marinated chicken is wrapped in pandan leaves and then steamed and deep fried. Pandan leaves also known as screw pine leaves are long green leaves which have a sweet floral flavour and fragrance.

Pandan leaf is called ‘bai toey hom’ in Thailand, ‘daun pandan’ in Malaysia and ‘takonoki’ in Japan is often crowned as the Asian Vanilla and is a widely used ingredient in most South-Eastern countries to flavour the rice, to make drinks and preparing desserts. Apart from the taste and flavour pandan also has many health benefits like natural detoxification, lowering blood sugar levels and aiding nervous system and hence used for many medicinal purposes too.

The Thai Pandan Leaf Chicken is a Thai recipe of a moist, tender chicken infused with refreshing pandan aroma and encased in the leaf packets. The amazing aroma of the leaves is infused into the chicken, giving it a distinct flavour and taste.

There are two ways to make the pandan chicken. The first way is to steam and then deep fry the chicken and second is by simply frying the chicken. I prefer to steam the marinated chicken for 10-12 minutes before frying as it makes the chicken more succulent, moist and the steaming helps in infusing it with more pandan leaf flavour.

Thai Pandan Leaf Chicken is delicious starter/appetizer which surely will become one of your favourite recipes!


200 grams pandan leaves
Oil for frying

For The Marinade
200g chicken breast/thigh (cut into 4 cm chunks)
1 tablespoon coriander sticks/roots
1-2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon palm sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

For The Dressing
1½ tablespoons light soy sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ tablespoon white toasted sesame



Pound/blend the garlic, coriander sticks and coriander seeds roughly in a blender.

Add the garlic coriander blend, black pepper, soya sauce, sesame seed oil, oyster sauce, palm sugar and fish sauce to the chicken and mix. Leave it aside to marinate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.


For the dressing mix together light soy sauce, dark soya sauce, salt sugar and water. Gently warm it so sugar dissolves and then leave it aside to cool.

Once cooled add the toasted sesame seeds.


Hold the cleaned pandan leaf and press it along the middle to make it flexible. Hold it with the flat side of the leaf on the left and the pointed part on your right. Cross it to make a pocket and while doing it you will notice that the flat side is on the right now. Place a marinated chicken piece in the pocket.


Bring the long-pointed end of the leaf down and thread it through at the back through the loop. Use the thumb or index finger to help thread the leaf through. To make it sure you can loop the pointed side of the leaf one more time to secure the chicken. Pull gently to make sure the chicken is secured in the pocket. On the other side, tuck the chicken in if it is protruding. Wrap the long end of the leaf back over and pull the leaf through the loop again to secure. Cut off a little of the excess leaf from the pointed side.


Steam the ready chicken for 10-12 minutes.

Once steamed keep them aside to cool and dry.


Heat oil for frying. Once hot fry the steamed chicken parcels for 2-3 minutes from both sides in batches. Chicken is ready when the oil stops sizzling, and the exposed area of the chicken turns golden brown.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Tips & Variations

  1. If the pandan leaves have any roots on them, remove these and clean the leaves.
  2. When using frozen leaves, thaw them at room temperature then rinse them under cold water and dry well before using.
  3. Marinate the chicken for at least couple of hours or it can be marinated overnight too.
  4. The chicken should be wrapped securely in the pandan leaf, with a little tip peeking out through the top. You can also wrap the chicken by simply rolling the leaf around the marinated chicken and fasten with a toothpick.
  5. Whatever method you use for wrapping the chicken make sure to secure the chicken inside the pandan leaves as the chicken will shrink during deep frying.
    Use the broad and long pandan leaves for easy wrapping.
  6. The chicken only needs to be steamed for 10-15 minutes and also since the chicken is already steamed, you just need to deep fry it until it turns golden brown. Frying it for too long will make the chicken dry.
  7. Make sure the oil is nice and hot before popping in the chicken.
  8. Try not to crowd the pan when frying. Cook the chicken in batches if you have to. This keeps the heat more even as it cooks the chicken.

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