The bay leaf is an aromatic leaf that is often added to slow cooked dishes and rice preparations for the strong fragrance and slightly bitter taste it imparts.
The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying. The dried leaf has a herbal and slightly floral fragrance, somewhat similar to oregano or thyme. They have a taste similar to cinnamon bark, but milder. The aroma is more closely related to cassia.
The appearance of the Indian bay leaf is similar to other bay leaves, but its genus and culinary usage is different. The european bay leaf is Laurus nobilis.
You will need to buy Indian bay leaves from an Indian grocer. Make sure they are olive green in colour, rather a brownish colour which indicates they may not be fresh.