Bay leaves are aromatic leaves of bay laurel. It has pungent and smoky flavor added to number of cuisines to add aroma. Fresh leaves of bay are added to various dishes and it is a primary ingredient of Indian condiment called garam masala.
Bay leaves are originated in Asia minor and native to Mediterranean region, but now spread to many parts of the world with suitable climate. They are not found in northern regions due to cold climates.
It has been used since long time back in different cultures. Roman used to put bay leaves in their coronet. Earlier people felt that bay leaves protect them against evil forces.
Preparation and storage
Fresh and dried leaves are used in cooking. Crushed leaves are also used in condiments. It should be stored in tight containers to safe the aroma and flavor of bay leaf.
Bay leaves are slightly bitter in taste, so they are taken out of the dish. It is added when cooking, just to add aromatic flavor.
It is traditional ingredient of French cuisines. It is used in the preparations of chicken, sauces, for garnishing, added to stews and bland vegetables.
They are also characteristic of the cuisines of India, Brazil, Greece, Germany, Eastern Europe, Jamaica and Scandinavia.
During middle ages, it is thought to induce abortions and to ward off evil energies.
It is said to have many properties to treat high blood sugar, migraine, headache, bacterial and fungal infections and gastric ulcers.
Bay oils are used for bruising and sprain.
Bay leaves are reported to be anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.