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Dry Bay Leaves(Tejpatta/Tamaalpatra)

Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.

Taste and aroma:

If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste. As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. Myrcene, which is a component of many essential oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf. They also contain the essential oil eugenol.

Culinary Uses:

Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in North America. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor many classic French dishes. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni) and removed before serving (they can be abrasive in the digestive tract). In Indian (Sanskrit name tamaalpatra, Hindi tejpatta) and Pakistani cuisine, bay leaves are often used in biryani and other rich, spicy dishes - although not as an everyday ingredient in home cuisine - and as an ingredient in garam masala.

Bay leaves can also be crushed or ground before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, but are more difficult to remove, and thus they are often used in a muslin bag or tea infuser.

Medicinal Value:

Bay leaves have many properties that make them useful for treating high blood sugar, migraine headaches, bacterial and fungal infections, and gastric ulcers.Bay oil, or oil of bays (oleum lauri) is used in liniments for bruises and sprains. Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds, called parthenolides, which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels, and to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay leaf contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Bay leaf is also an antifungal and antibacterial, and has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic.

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