If a recipe you follow calls for Bay Leaf, then you are bound to have a lot of confusions about what exactly should you use. Because there’s Bay Leaf- the leaf of European Bay Tree (Laurus nobilis)- in the market which is often misunderstood as the pungent smelling Indian Bay Leaf. Confused by the similarity in their names, most people tend to substitute Bay Leaf with Indian Bay Leaf but in fact you can never replace one with the other as they have different flavour profiles and characteristics. Besides, consuming Bay leaves is not considered safe as they can be toxic due to the presence of small amounts of cyanide and benzaldehyde. So, if you want to impart the flavour of Bay Leaves in recipes but refrain from doing so thinking about its adverse health effects, then we suggest using Cinnamon Leaves as a healthy alternative. Read on to know the details.
Difference Between Bay Leaf & Indian Bay Leaf
Bay leaves come from what we call a European Bay Tree (Laurus nobilis) which is mostly used in Mediterranean Cuisine. Whereas Indian Bay Leaves are actually Leaves of Cassia that are added to curries and rice preparations in the same way as European bay leaves are used for flavouring stews and soups. Cassia leaves are colloquially called Indian Bay Leaf and due to this similarity in their names, Indian bay leaves many times are confusingly referred to as simply “Bay Leaf”. Indian Bay Leaf is longer and wider than the bay laurel tree’s leaf and has a darker olive green with three spindly veins running along its length. Whereas Bay Laurel Tree’s leaves look smooth-surfaced and light green in colour. Dried and ground, Indian Bay leaves are added to spice mixes – Garam Masalas. They are also an integral ingredient in the mild and aromatic Moghul or Mughlai cuisine and imparts a truly authentic taste to numerous recipes. So, being an essential ingredient, there is always a huge demand for this aromatic leaves that often leads to its shortage in the market. You can never substitute it with European Bay leaf as it won’t serve the purpose at all. Instead, Cinnamon Leaves can be an apt choice. Cinnamon Leaves definitely have some flavour notes in common with Indian Bay leaves. Hence it definitely matches the Cinnamon-like, lightly spicy and refreshing flavour of Indian Bay Leaves.Besides Cinnamon Leaves are safe for regular consumption as well.
Cinnamon Leaves; The Healthy alternative to Bay Leaf
The oval-shaped Cinnamon leaves and the thick bark, which is Cinnamon are the primary part of evergreen Cinnamon Tree. Mostly Cinnamon leaves are used in a dried state and can be used to flavor stews, pulaos, and curries.They can also be used as a flavoring agent for baked goods and desserts. Cinnamon Leaves have a fragrance and taste similar to cinnamon bark, but milder.Its aroma has close resemblance with that of cassia. You may add it to dishes for not just its great taste as Cinnamon Leaves contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that may provide many nutritional benefits for your body. They contain a chemical compound named eugenol which is good for easing out gastrointestinal discomforts like upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhoea. Similarly, they also show high concentrations of cinnamaldehyde, which is a natural pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties.In addition to cooking, the leaves are commonly used as a hot water tea ingredient for oral consumption. Cinnamon leaves pair well with cloves, green cardamom, black pepper, coconut milk, pork, chicken, and lamb. Dried Cinnamon leaves will keep up to six months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place.