Bay leaves are used in cooking and are from the Laurus nobilis tree. The leaves, used whole, are a little pungent and highly aromatic, and should be used sparingly. They are warming, and pacify Kapha and Vata doshas while increasing Pitta. In ayurveda, bay leaves are used in teas to help soothe respiratory problems and indigestion.
Bay leaves combine well with pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, and this combination of whole spices is used to flavor basmati rice. Bay leaves can be added to stews, soups, dhals and curries while they are simmering, and are generally removed before serving.