Indonesian Bay Leaf (Salam Leaf)

Indonesian bay leaves (salam leaves) are aromatic leaves used in Indonesian cooking similar in use to the Mediterranean variety bay leaf.

Dried Salam Leaf

Dried Salam Leaf

Fresh Salam Leaves

Fresh Salam Leaves

Indonesian bay leaf (salam leaf, Indonesian laurel, Syzygium polyanthum, Myrtaceae) is not generally found outside of Indonesia. The dried and/or fresh leaves are commonly used in the cuisines of Sumatra, Java, Madura, and Bali. The aromatic leaves are not used raw, but are added during cooking – usually whole – to various curry-like dishes, stews and some sauces.

Indonesian cooking does not typically use the Western bay leaf so, if you have an Indonesian cookbook that calls for bay leaves, salam leaves are what you are looking for. If you are interested in trying your hand at Indonesian cooking, this ingredient is well worth seeking out. It adds an subtle yet unmistakable sweet and savoury flavour.

Substitute for Salam Leaves

  • Bay leaves are not a good substitute so try curry leaves which can be found in Indian grocery stores.
  • Rather than using bay leaf as a substitute if salam leaf is unavailable, omit the herb altogether.


Recipes Using Indonesian Bay Leaves

A Quick Look at Various Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are the aromatic leaves of several species of the laurel family. They are used in cooking for their distinctive flavour and fragrance, and may be used fresh or dried.

Mediterranean bay leaf : The leaf of the bay laurel or “true laurel”, Laurus nobilis, is a culinary herb often used to flavour soups, stews, and braises and pâtés in Mediterranean and Western cuisines.

California bay leaf : The leaf of the California bay tree also known as California laurel, Oregon myrtle, and pepperwood, is similar to the Mediterranean bay leaf, but has a stronger flavour.

Indian bay leaf (Tej pat) : The leaf of the Cinnamomum tejpata tree, similar in fragrance and taste to cinnamon bark, but milder. In appearance, it is similar to the other bay leaves, but is quite different from a culinary perspective.

Indonesian bay leaf (Daun Salam) : The leaf of the Eugenia polyantha Wight plant of the Myrtaceae family. There is no good substitute for this leaf in cooking. Daun Salam is Indonesian for Peace Leaf

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