BAY LEAF - Uses, Side Effects, and More

Dried Bay leaves

Used to flavour and not eaten. Often placed in pilau rice for their distinctive mild flavour but usually removed prior to serving.

Fresh and dried are available although the dried tend to have a more robust flavour which is similar to cinnamon but much milder. This leaf has been used since ancient greek days and is popular worldwide, not just in Indian cuisine. 

In times gone by these leaves were often scattered in the pantry as it was believed they repel mice, flies and roaches. 


Some members of the laurel family, as well as the unrelated but visually similar mountain laurel and cherry laurel, have leaves that are poisonous to humans and livestock. While these plants are not sold anywhere for culinary use, their visual similarity to bay leaves has led to the often-repeated belief that bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they are poisonous.

This is not true, bay leaves may be eaten without toxic effects. However, they remain unpleasantly stiff even after thorough cooking, and if swallowed whole or in large pieces they may pose a risk of harming the digestive tract or causing choking. Thus, most recipes that use bay leaves will recommend their removal after the cooking process has finished