CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Aromatic Leaves…When is a bay leaf not a bay leaf?

Welcome to Friday Food Reviews, where I will cover a different food or product each week and look at… what they are.  where do they grow, what can we substitute them for in a recipe, and are they safe to eat, store, use, cook, or anything connected to that food? or product..all the why’s and the wherefores…it will, of course, be mainly my own opinion or a known fact…good or bad…there may even be a tried and tested recipe…or three… today I am looking at…Aromatic Leaves

Why am I looking at aromatic leaves?… As you know I am a foodie and I am always looking at recipes…I watch many cooking shows/videos and just recently I have been watching Rick Stein in India…We love curry and I always make my own spice mixes when I make an Indian Curry…if you get to watch this series and love Indian food I have picked up many little hints and tips and it is worth watching…

When I make my Indian spice mixes I always use bay leaves, in fact, I use bay leaves in many recipes in spag bol, stews, and casseroles they are one of my most used leaves…Fresh or dried they are included in many recipes…

As with most foods bay leaves are known by many other names around the world for example…also called laurel leaf, the leaf of the sweet bay tree (Laurus nobilis), is an evergreen of the family Lauraceae, indigenous to countries bordering the Mediterranean…A species of plant in the myrtle family and related to allspice, it’s also found throughout the Caribbean where it is known quite simply as “the spice tree”  or “sweet bay” and the “bay rum tree.” …

But when is a bay leaf not a bay leaf? …this has been my most recent discovery while watching Rick Stein…the answer is when it is an Indian Bay Leaf...also according to Rick Stein, they are not interchangeable when cooking Indian food there is a difference in taste if you use a laurel leaf…

How to easily tell the difference...the laurel leaf for the purpose of this illustration is a smaller leaf and only has one vein the Indian bay leaf has three veins…as pictured below…

Most importantly is the difference in taste… the Indian bay leaf embodies a mild cinnamon flavour, while the laurel bay leaf imparts essences of pine and lemon. The Indian bay leaf is used extensively in Indian cuisine, what may be confusing is that in most Indian recipes they are referred to as simply “bay leaf”, though the two are not to be used interchangeably…I have found when my Indian friends share recipes with me they refer to just ” bay leaf “and I have never before thought to question this…

In India, it is known as Tej Patta. This culinary herb makes for an integral part of Indian cuisine, thanks to its distinctive flavour and fragrance.

I am so happy that I now know there is a difference thanks to Mr Rick Stein…I am also now the proud owner of the said Indian Bay leaves and can’t wait to make some more spice mix and taste the difference…

Curry Leaf…

My two curry plants are one of my pride and joys hubby would love to cut them back but he is not allowed when they are in flower they are so pretty they have lovely little clusters of white flowers and then little red berries that although edible I leave for my feathered friends…

Native to Asia and extensively used in Indian cuisine the curry plant can also be referred to as sweet neem although it is of a different family to neem…Curry leaves taste a bit like asafoetida, another essential element of cooking in regions like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But it also has a more herbal feel, slightly like basil or kaffir lime…although I grow it here I have not yet come across any Thai recipes that use this leaf…They do not taste like curry…

Furthermore thanks to Rick Stein I have discovered more uses for this aromatic leaf…

The most popular way to use curry leaves is by adding them to your cooking, specifically when tempering for dals or curries. They are typically added along with mustard seeds, and green chillies initially, before adding other ingredients. They can also be added to chutneys and salads, chopped finely or left whole…they are not thick evergreen leaves like the bay leaves and are quite edible whereas a bay leaf isn’t it is just for flavour.

Kaffir Lime Leaves…

You will notice Lime leaves are quite distinctive in so much as they grow as a double leaf…Its rind and crushed leaves emit an intense citrus fragrance…its essential oil is also used in perfumery…

Here in Thailand, it is an essential ingredient in many recipes and gives Tom Yum soup its floral pungency, it is also known as bai makrut…I was reading last week that some stores are changing the name from kaffir lime to Makrut Lime in the UK as the name Kaffir is a derogatory word to some communities…

Next week I will be talking about some other aromatic leaves which are used in the culinary world and also in my kitchen…

Thank you for joining me today as always I look forward to your comments and to how you use these leaves in your kitchen…x

30 thoughts on “CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Aromatic Leaves…When is a bay leaf not a bay leaf?

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Neither did I Liz until I watched Rick Stein in India.. I used mine yesterday when I made garam masala powder and there is a definite difference in the flavour profile… 😀

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    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Lovely I hope you can keep it going, Lucy after your long wait they are quite hardy trees though…now I’ve got some tips from Rick Stein I will be using more curry leaves as they are used a lot in Indian Cuisine 🙂

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  1. Pingback: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 21st -27th August 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Morbid Obesity,Food Shortages,Aromatic Leaves…and Saturday Snippets where “Slow” is my one word prompt. | Retired? No one told me!

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I hadn’t either Dolly it seems like it was one of those well kept secrets.. lol… I now have a lovely big bag of them and can’t wait to taste the difference when I apply all the tips I have learnt from the wonderful Rick Klein when I make my next Indian curry… 😀

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  2. Pingback: CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Aromatic Leaves…When is a bay leaf not a bay leaf? – MobsterTiger

  3. Klausbernd

    Dear Carol,
    thanks for this post full of infos.
    We have quite a big bay leave tree in our garden providing us with its leaves.
    Wishing you a happy weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      You are very welcome, Cindy…Thyme is a lovely herb and one I use a lot its a shame you have no limes but you can buy them frozen or dried which you most probably know …I hope you are having a great week 🙂 x

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