Bay Leaves in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

Bay leaf is widely used in Indian cooking for its distinctive and decent aroma. Usually it is used whole but can be used in ground form as well. The leaves are usually removed from the dishes before they are consumed.

There are different types of bay leaf. The Indian bay leaf is long and olive green in colour. Bay leaves are called tejpata in Bengali or tejpatta in Hindi.

Bay Leaves in Bengali & Indian Cooking

Uses of Bay Leaves in Bengali & Indian Cooking

In Sanskrit, there is an adage – “Ghranong Ordho Vojonong”. Literally translating, it means if you can smell a food, you have already eaten half of it.

Flavour is very important in cooking, especially in Indian cooking. It appeals to you and only then you allow bursts of flavours to dance on your taste buds.

Bay leaves create an unmatched and unforgettable rendezvous with flavour that does not overpower the dish, rather allows its aroma to stand out in a subtle way.

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Tej Pata or bay leaf is extensively used in Indian cuisines. As it is a flavouring agent, it is used in a variety of dishes from simple veg curries to flavourful rice preparations (for example, pulao, biriyani etc) to payesh and laddu.

Bay leaves are used fresh or dried, whole or ground to flavour up the dishes.

Bay leaf has a very unique, mild and sweet flavour. The aromatic leaf is used as a flavour enhancer. If it comes to flavour, Indian bay leaves are similar to cinnamon but offer a milder flavour.

Its flavour is so good that bay leaves are used in almost every shahi veg and non-veg preparation and gives the dishes a rich, royal aroma.

Bay leaves are a must in pulao and muri ghanta. Pulao is a vegetable preparation cooked with basmati rice (a kind of flavourful rice).

Milk-soaked saffron strands give the dish a beautiful, tempting yellow colour. Bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves are added to ghee at the start of cooking.

The combined aroma permeates through each grain of rice. Pulao is usually served with a spicy veg or non-veg side dish.

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Muri ghonto is a non-veg preparation. Half-boiled Gobindobhog rice is cooked with fried fish heads (usually ruhi or catla is used), a handful of spices and flavoured up by bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.

For the yummiest taste, it is slow cooked in ghee. Whereas raisins add a mild sweetness to the dish, cashew nuts give it a crunchy bite.

Bay leaves are added to Basmati rice along with other commonly used flavouring agents for biryani preparations. The aroma gets into each rice grain. It is also added to meat preparation. A double delight!

Bay leaves add an amazing base flavour to many veg curries from paneer dishes to jackfruit preparations.

The silky, spicy preparations soak in the flavour of bay leaves and do a great justice to foodies’ wildest expectations.

Imagine payesh (kheer in Hindi) without bay leaves; you will miss the real flavour of the delicacy.

Bay leaves are added to a variety of Indian style laddu for the rich aroma that is a true harbinger of the great taste you will enjoy with every bite.

What Foods Can You Put Tej Pata (Bay Leaf) on?

There is a variety of foods that bay leaves can be put on. Bay leaf enhances the flavour of any recipe it is added to.

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Use bay leaf in fulkopi aloo rosa, pulao, biryani, muri ghonto, paneer malai, jackfruit curry, payesh, laddu and see how it subtly boosts up the aromatic delight of the dish.

Questions & Answers:

When Should You Add Tej Pata (Bay Leaf) While Cooking?

Bay leaf is used at the start of cooking. If you are preparing any dessert, add bay leaves in the middle of cooking.

Does Tej Pata (Bay Leaf) Make Food Spicy?

No, bay leaf makes food flavourful. It is added to recipes for the characteristic, warm, peppery flavour that it brings to any dish.

What is the Taste of Tej Pata (Bay Leaf)?

When infused in water, it gives off a minty flavour. Otherwise it is a dry leaf with no smell of its own.

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