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What is the difference between Curry leaves vs Bay leaves

What is the difference between Curry leaves vs Bay leaves

A comprehensive to the point  guide that unravels the difference between Curry leaves vs Bay leaves , how they differ in characteristics and what should you know before you use one for the other.

Bay leaves Vs Curry leaves
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If you are confused and unsure about the difference between curry leaves VS bay leaves then you have reached the right place.

The reason which prompted me to write this post is on how often I got asked the question of ‘are curry leaves same as bay leaves’ during my Indian cooking classes.

And understandably so, as both curry leaf and bay leaf are two of the most used leaf spices to make many Indian and Sri-Lankan dishes.

Are Curry Leaves And Bay Leaves The Same Thing

The name ‘curry’ to describe curry leaves as well as the reference of Indian dishes popularly called a ‘Curry’ adds to the confusion.

It comes as no surprise that the omnipresence of the word ‘Curry’ related to Indian food makes non-South Asians wonder are bay leaves curry leaves due to the addition of bay leaves in most Indian curries. (now try saying this para in one breath 🙂 )

What also make the use of curry leaves for cooking slightly complicated is that the Indian bay leaves look different to the type used in Western cooking also known as laurel leaves.

I wont go into long leafy details about bay leaves and laurel leaves. You can read about the different types of bay leaves here.

In this post , I will concentrate on highlighting the difference between bay leaves and curry leaves and their uses in cooking.

So, to answer the question, bay leaves and curry leaves are two separate types of spices.

Curry vs Bay leaves – Whats the Difference?

Cooking Indian food involves the uses of different types of spices and few herbs. Some of the common leaf spices used in Indian cuisine are:

All the different types of Indian leaf spices have different tastes, flavours and appearance.

The Indian name of curry leaves is Curry patta and bay leaves is called Tej patta in Hindi. Patta meaning ‘leaves’ in Hindi.

The difference between Tej Patta and Curry Patta is pretty easy to figure. They not only look different in appearance but also in their aroma and flavour.

Below are some of the key curry leaves and bay leaves difference:

Plant source

Curry leaves come from the plant Murraya koenigii which is a bush or a plant rather than a tree.

Bay leaves come from Laurel plant, which is also a bush.


Curry leaves have small slender pointy bright green leaves that have a glossy look.

Bay leaves on the other hand have larger less pointed and paler green leaves.


Both bay leaves and curry leaves are aromatic leaves which means that they both add flavour to the dish.

While the flavour enhancing contribution of bay leaves is slightly debatable due to their very mild pine like taste, curry leaves on the other hand have a very robust fresh minty, lemon type flavour with a slight nutty undertone when cooked.


The uses of curry leaves is mostly prevalent in Indian and Sri-Lanka and few other South Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and parts of thailand.

Curry leaves is used to make only savoury dishes.

The use of Bay leaves is much broader and popular around the globe. It is used in almost every cuisine and can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes.


When it comes to buying bay leaves you are likely to find them in any super market.

It may be tricky to buy curry leaves as they are not a common spice. You may have to visit an ethnic or Indian store to buy them.

The image below highlights the difference between the two.

Difference between bay leaves and curry leaves  pinterest image

Can You Substitute Curry Leaves With Bay Leaves

Curry leaves can be a bit tricky to find and therefore quite often people substitute bay leaves for curry leaves.

Although the use of both curry and bay leaves in cooking are similar, using one for the other as a substitute is not entirely the right thing to do.

This is because of the different flavour profiles of the spices.

While curry leaves has minty, citrusy notes, bay leaves on the other hand is woody and far less mild. They are not best suited when replaced with the other, as you will be compromising the taste. However you can use one in place for the other depending on the type of cuisine it is used in.

For the best alternative to curry leaves click here

For the best alternative to bay leaves click here.


Curry leaves and bay leaves are two different types of spices used in cooking. While curry leaves is mostly used in Indian and South – Asian cuisines, bay leaves is popular world wide.

The flavour of bay leaves is milder and almost woody with subtle mint notes, fresh curry leaves have a stronger lemony, nutty flavour.

Both the spices have their own place in dishes, while adding curry leaves may be a complete game changer, bay leaves holds its own in a broth or sauce based dish it is added to.

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1 year ago

So interesting. I never really thought about this, and it is nice to have a breakdown of what makes them different. I usually just go through the motions of putting a bay leaf in stews!

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