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Also known as
Tejpat, Tejpatta, Tamalpatra
Bayleaf is an aromatic leaf that is often added to soups, gravies and rice preparations for the strong fragrance it imparts.
The bay tree is indigenous to Asia Minor, from where it spread to the Mediterranean and then to other countries with similar climates. The upper surface of the bay leaf is shiny, olive green, and lower surface is dull olive to brown. The leaf size ranges from 2.5 to 7.5 cm in length and 1.6 to 2.5 cm in breadth. The shape of the leaf is elliptical, pointed and smooth. When dried, the fragrance of the leaf is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme.
Indian bay leaf also called as tej patta has a fragrance and taste similar to cinnamon bark, but milder. The aroma is more closely related to cassia. The appearance of the Indian bay leaf is similar to other bay leaves, but its genus and culinary usage is different.
These leaves are aromatic and belong to the Laurel family (Lauraceae). Because of their distinctive flavour and fragrance, they are used for preparing various dishes.
Laurus nobilis also called as Mediterranean bay leaf is s fresh leaf with s mild aroma and flavour. Even after several weeks of picking and drying, they do not develop their full flavour.
California bay leaf is highly aromatic and is also sometimes referred to as Mexican bay leaf, Oregon myrtle or pepperwood. It has a stronger flavour than Mediterranean bay leaf although it looks similar.
How to select
• Dried leaves should be whole and olive green. Brown leaves would have lost their flavour.
• Both whole and crushed leaves are available in the market. While both are used in cooking, crushed or ground leaves should be used when you need a stronger aroma and flavour.
• Fresh or dried bayleaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavour and fragrance.
• The leaves are often used to flavour soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean Cuisine.
• The leaves also flavour classic French dishes such as bouillabaisse and bouillon.
• In Indian cuisine, the leaves are most often used whole while tempering for vegetable dishes or biryanis and removed before serving.
• Bayleaves can also be crushed (or ground) before cooking.
• Crushed bayleaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, and there is less chance of biting into a leaf directly.
How to store
• If stored in a dry, air-tight container in a cool and dry place, the whole leaves will retain their aroma for close to two years.
• The properties of bayleaves make it useful for treating high blood sugar, migraine headaches, bacterial and fungal infections, and gastric ulcers.
• Bay leaves and berries have been used for their astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic and stomachic properties.
• Bayleaf contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
• Bay leaf is also antifungal and antibacterial.
• Traditionally, it has been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic pains.