I've purchased a few of your books, and in some recipes you call
for a 'cassia leaf'. I've been to a lot of spice shops around Melbourne,
and many people do not know what I'm talking about. Indonesian,
Indian, Chinese and Sri Lankan spice shops tell me there is no such
thing as cassia leaf, so I don't know what to do. Is there such
a thing as cassia leaf?
Mario Valkanas, Melbourne, Australia.
is indeed such a thing as cassia leaf! It's pictured here.
But you can't expect spice shop owners to know (wink wink, nudge
nudge). It's botanical name is Cinnamomum cassia in
Latin. In India it is know as tej patta. So it is
actually the leaf of the cassia tree, which is similar to a cinnamon
Cassia quills, made from the bark of the cassia tree, are darker,
thicker, and more pungent than cinnamon quills (which come from
the branches of the cinnamon tree), and are used for making most
of the world's cinnamon powder. This is a big subject - there is
a fair amount of confusion between cassia and cinnamon, and also
mis-labelling for economic gain. Cassia is cheaper and stronger
in fragrance than real cinnamon powder. But this is the subject
of another letter.
So cassia leaf is sometimes mistakenly described or packaged as
Indian bay beaves, but it is not really related to bay. The leaves
do look quite a bit like slender bay leaves, thus the confusion.
Indian shops will have it - ask for tej patta. Otherwise
regular bay leaves are close enough.
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