Dried basil leaves instead of bay leaves


I have to make an Indian curry which requires bay leaves. Apparently I don't have them at home. I read on google here that dried Basil leaves can be a good substitute for bay leaves.
Now dried bay leaves, which we use in curries and soups have a strong flavor totally different from the minty flavour of Basil leaves.
Can anyone advice me on this, if someone has used this substitution.

Best Answer

No, this would be a bad substitution. Instead use cinnamon, in a smaller quantity, and preferably whole. Or leave it out entirely and rely on the other spices in your dish.

In my opinion at least, dried basil leaves are mostly flavorless. They certainly lack the sweet, fresh, minty flavors of fresh basil. They might lend your dish some complexity or slight woodiness like a Mediterranean bay laurel leaf from the plant Laurus nobilis. But even in European dishes, this seems like a poor substitute.

But in any case, the "Indian bay leaf" or Cinnamomum tamala is a whole different species, and probably what your curry recipe is looking for. Unlike the subtle menthol and tea-like qualities of a bay laurel, this leaf has a mild cinnamon scent. Thus a better substitute is cinnamon or cassia.

More generally, both these leaves have quite subtle flavors. In a dish with many different flavorful components, it plays a relatively minor role. It can often be omitted without a huge loss in flavor.