Indian Bay Leaf
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Indian Bay Leaf
ative Photo: Gary Thingnam
Common name: Indian Bay Leaf, Indian cassia, Indian cassia bark, Tamala cassia • Hindi: तेजपत्ता tejpatta • Manipuri: ꯇꯦꯖꯄꯥꯠ Tejpat • Tamil: தாளிசபத்திரி Talishappattiri • Malayalam: തമാലപത്രമ് Tamalapatram • Telugu: Talisapatri, Talisha, Patta akulu • Kannada: Patraka • Bengali: তেজপাত Tejpat • Urdu: तेज़पात Tezpat • Assamese: Mahpat, তেজপাত Tejpat • Gujarati: તમાલપત્ર Tamaal patra • Sanskrit: तमालपत्र tamalapattra • Tangkhul: Sakomna
Botanical name: Cinnamomum tamala    Family: Lauraceae (Laurel family)
Synonyms: Cinnamomum albiflorum, Laurus tamala

Indian bay-leaves are the leaves of a tree closely related to Cinnamon. The tough, three-veined leaves are very popular in Northern India, but are little known elsewhere — at least, today. They were well known to the Romans under the name malobathrum (also spelt malabathrum) and used both for perfumery and in cooking. The name Bay Leaf is used for some other plant (Laurus nobilis). So, this one is called Indian Bay Leaf. It is a small to moderately sized ever green tree. Plants are raised from seeds sown in nursery beds in March-April. Seedlings are transplanted to the field in rows of 2 m apart with a spacing of 3 – 3.5 m between plants. Leaves are collected in dry weather every year from vigourous plants, dried in the sun and tied up into bundles for marketing. Flowers are tiny, greenish yellow, insignificant. Today, Indian bay-leaves are a spice used almost exclusively in the kitchens of Northern India, especially in the famous Moghul cuisine that was developed at the Imperial courts in Delhi and Agra. One example of such a dish is biriyani बिरयानी.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Delhi & Manipur.

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