PHONE: +353 (0)21 463 7960   MY ACCOUNT

Indian Bay Leaves/Tejpat

English Name:                                        Indian Bay Leaves – please note that these are not the same as the Mediterranean/Laurel bay leaves more commonly used in Western cooking.

Hindi Name:                                        Tejpatta/Tejpat

Sanskrit Name:                                        Tamalapattra

Latin Name:                                        Malabathrum

Plant Family:                                        Lauraceae

Part of Plant Used:                                        Leaves, dried.

Plant Description:                                        An evergreen tree related to the cinnamon tree which grows to around 7 metres tall. The leaf is similar in shape and colour to the more common Laurel bay leaf, although much larger and with three distinct veins as opposed to just one, but the flavour is markedly different. The leaves can be harvested once the tree reaches around 10 years old. After harvest, October to March, the leaves are sun dried.

Characteristics:                                        The leaf is used widely in North Indian cuisine, especially in the great Moghul dishes which combined North Indian cooking with Persian and Arabic roots. The most popular dishes that rely upon it are the Moghul versions of Biryani and Korma. It is also a major part of some Garam Masala blends and this is probably the only instance of it being ground. Many garam masala mixes found in the West often, incorrectly, use Mediterranean bay leaves.

Aroma:                                        Very aromatic, betraying its cinnamon family routes.

History:                                        Not much outside India, although it was popular in Ancient Greece and Rome both in food and in perfume (from the extracted oil). It was mistakenly thought that the leaf referred to as Malabathrum in Greek and Roman texts was a Betel Leaf, it wasn’t – it was the Tejpat. Within India its use has been both culinary and medicinal (see below).

Points of Interest:                                        Outside India (and Indian supermarkets), the Indian Bay Leaf is not terribly common. It is tempting to substitute the Mediterranean Bay Leaf when following an Indian recipe. Whilst better than nothing, it is not really adequate. A better alternative is probably to use a small piece of cinnamon.

Ayurvedic Properties:                                         Cools Vata and Kapha, slightly warming for Pitta. Has stimulant, carminative, analgesic actions. Helps with headaches, coughs, colic, congestion, diarrhea, haemorrhoids, rheumatism, nausea, vomiting.Energetics: Pungent, bitter/hot/pungent

Leave a Reply