2 thoughts on “Bay leaf (tejpat)

  1. They do have different flavors. The one you’re thinking of, which is sometimes called “Indian bay leaf” is usually much larger (maybe 4-5 inches long), it has three spines down the middle instead of one, and it is actually the leaf of the cassia plant. (Cassia bark is also used as a substitute, or sometimes interchangeably with cinnamon.) The cassia “bay leaf” has a cinnamon- or clove-like flavor, totally unlike the other variety.

    I’ve met Indian cooks who insist that the cassia “bay leaf” is the real thing and that one should not substitute the laurel “bay leaf” that is common in the U.S. I’ve also met knowledgeable, great Indian cooks who use the laurel “bays” freely and with great success and who don’t seem to be aware, or be overly concerned that they’re making any kind of substitution–or don’t consider it to be a substitution. India is a very big country and I’m sure there is good precedent among different people for each of the varieties. One source I’ve read about Punjabi cooking in fact specifies that the smaller laurel bay leaves be used, and describes the cassia bays as something used more in the South. I’ve also seen a transcription of an old family recipe for garam masala from a Punjabi woman in Delhi in which she vehemently insists that only cassia bay leaves be used. I think it’s the kind of thing where if you ask 10 people, you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

    In Indian groceries in the U.S. they’re often found side by side on the shelf, with no distinction made on the labels, and no price variation.

    Easy way to tell them apart is by simple appearance: 3-spines are cassia, 1-spine are laurel.

    If this is what Manjula uses, I’d be happy to just trust her experience and go with it in her recipes.

  2. I believe that the picture above of the (tejpatta) leaves is actually just bay leaves (not the tejpatta variety) I know that they are also called Indian bay leaves but they have very distinct flavours from each other do they not?
    thanks

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