What is Bay Leaf? It is called Tej Patta in Hindi, Indian bay leaf, Malabar leaf, Indian cassia, Indian cassia bark or Tamala cassia. It is a tough, three-veined leaf that is popular in India and used in Indian cooking and for preparing perfumes. It is a small to moderately sized ever green tree. The three veined leaf is elliptical, pointed. smooth and tough. The flavor and fragrance is similar to the cinnamon bark but slightly milder. The leaves are used either fresh, dried (both whole leaves or powdered form. Oil is also extracted (Bay leaf oil) to treat such ailments.
Culinary Uses of Bay Leaves – Bay leaf is used extensively in the cuisines of India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Its an important spice in the Moghulai style of cooking especially biryani and korma. Kashimiri cuisine uses Tejpatta extensively. It is also used in the cuisines of Nepal and is an integral part of Tsheringma herbal tea in Bhutan. Both fresh and dried bay leaves are used in cooking and impart a distinctive flavor and aroma. In Indian cooking, bay leaf is usually used as a whole dried leaf during the tempering of a dish be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian. It is an essential ingredient during preparation of the famous Biryani. The tempered bay leaves are removed once the dish is cooked, just before serving. Bay leaves are lightly roasted and ground and added to the special Indian spice mix – Garam Masala. The ground leaves are more aromatic than the whole dry bay leaf.
Medicinal Properties – Tej Patta or bay leaf has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, carmiative, diaphoretic, diuretic and astringent properties. Bay leaves are rich in vitamin C and contain minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium.
Health benefits of Bay leaves – Bay leaf helps in the treatment of diabetes, migraine, gastric ulcers, abdominal pain, colic pain, bacterial and fungal infection and high blood pressure. It maintains the sugar level of blood, pulse rate and blood pressure. It improves the immune system of the body. It works as an antidote to poison. Tej patta is used to treat infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts and bay leaf juice promote menstruation.
Bay Leaf Oil – Oil is extracted from bay leaves and is used in the treatment of paralysis, muscle pain, arthritis and flu.
Where to buy Indian Bay Leaves? You will find them in the spices and herb isle of Indian grocery stores and most Asian grocery stores. Indian bay leaves are often confused with Bay laurel leaves. Bay laurel leaves have a single vein running down the center while Indian bay leaves have three veins.
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