A popular spice used in pickling and marinating and to flavour stews, stuffings, and fish, bay leaves are delicately fragrant but have a bitter taste. They contain approximately 2 percent essential oil, the principal component of which is cineole.
When the herb is infused into water, broth, or another cooking liquid, an almost minty flavor (somewhere between spearmint and menthol) develops, with subtle hints of black pepper and Christmas tree pine. They add a subtle bitterness that keeps heavy soups and stews from being so, well, heavy.
Bay leaves are commonly found in biryani, pulao, soups, curries and most Indian dishes. Also known as tej patta, this culinary herb makes for an integral part of the Indian cuisine, thanks to its distinctive flavour and fragrance. Apart from this, it is also known for its age-old medicinal properties.