Indian Bay Leaf / Teja Patta
Though the Indian bay leaf and the sweet laurel bay leaf (more widely used in the West), share much of the same common name, they are, indeed, quite different in their characteristics and flavor profiles. Indian bay leaf, also known as teja patta or tej pat, comes from the cassia tree. It is longer and wider than the bay laurel tree’s leaf and is a darker olive green with three spindly veins running along its length, as opposed to the smooth-surfaced light green of its similarly-named counterpart. Most importantly, the Indian bay leaf embodies a mild cinnamon flavor, while the laurel bay leaf imparts essences of pine and lemon. The Indian bay leaf is used extensively in Indian cuisine, and in recipes, may be confusingly referred to as simply “bay leaf”, though the two are not to be used interchangeably.
If Indian bay leaf is unavailable, it is best to leave it out altogether, or substitute with a little cassia, cinnamon, or an extra clove.