One of the ingredients that play a major role in many Southeast Asian recipes is the curry leaf. This ingredient has a distinct flavor that makes dishes have truly authentic flavors. Many countries use this ingredient, such as India, Thailand, and Malaysia -- so if you’re a fan of these cuisines, curry leaves would be something that you need to have on hand at all times.
Curry leaves are a difficult find in many supermarkets or grocery stores, so substitution might be needed when you don’t have this ingredient in your pantry.
Curry Leaf Substitutes
Most dishes that call for curry leaves pair very well with a hint of citrus, and this is exactly what lime zest does. It also provides a subtle aroma that is quite similar to that of curry leaves. Some people use a combination of lime zest and basil to replicate the citrusy and herbal flavors in curry leaves. When substituting, use the zest of one lime in place of 8 curry leaves.
Bay leaves are known as a staple in Mediterranean cooking and is also widely used in Indian recipes. This ingredient provides the same savory and sweet notes that one would get from using curry leaves. They work very well in recipes that call for curry leaves and work well with other ingredients in Asian cooking.
They are similar in appearance but have different flavors. If using this as a substitute, use one bay leaf in place of ½ cup of curry leaves. This ingredient works best in stews and soups.