Spices: Cassia Bark and Leaves | What is the Balinese Bay Leaf | Indonesian Bay Leaf

The Cassia plant produces both bark which can be used in place of cinnamon, and a leaf called the Balinese or Indonesian Bay Leaf. This bay leaf is unrelated to the European Sweet Laurel Bay leaf.

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Cassia Bark

Cassia Bark is a thick, dark brown bark of a type of cassia related to cinnamon, but is larger and courser, with a stronger flavour. It is used in Balinese and other Indonesian cooking rather than the true cinnamon as the flavour is stronger. It is far less subtle in flavour and far cheaper, and different types of cassia are used in different countries.

The Balinese Cassia bark is a thick, dark brown bark of a type of cassia compared to the cassia used generally. It is far less subtle in flavour, more assertive, and far cheaper.

Important Read

daun salaam

Cassia Leaf | Bai Grawan; Daun Salaam | Indonesian or Balinese Bay Leaf

A subtly flavoured bright green leaf of the cassia family, this bears no resemblance to the sweet laurel bay leaf. It is known only in Malay and Indonesian cooking, common in the cuisines of Thailand, Sumatra, Java and Bali and growing wild in the Western part of the SE Asian Peninsula (Burma to Malaysia) and in Indonesia. It is difficult to obtain in the West, although it is available in Asian shops that sell Indonesian ingredients. Daun or Daum Salam means peace leaf.

The leaves may be used fresh or dried. They are used with a variety of dishes, and fried or cooked for a while to release their flavour.

Daun Salam | Indonesian Bay Leaf

Note how the package is labelled Laurus Nobilis, or Sweet Bay Laurel. This is totally incorrect, and leads to a lot of confusion. It is also often called Indian Bay Leaf, but that is also incorrect. Some books in fact refer incorrectly to Salam as Indian Bay, and I assume that this error derives from the time that Indonesia was known as East India.

Daun Salam | Indonesian Bay Leaf

Do not use sweet laurel bay leaf as a substitute. Indian Bay Leaves (Teja patta) can be used as a substitute, but the taste is different. Or use a kaffir lime leaf with some curry leaves for a closer taste. Alternatively, omit them altogether.

Different Bay Leaves

You can see more information on the different types of bayleaf here. Feel free to browse our Spice Notes series.

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