Spice Up Your Life! 26

(This column brings you information on various spices, fruits and vegetables, along with recipes and home remedies. Readers are cautioned to use remedies with discretion)

Indian Bay Leaf (Tej Patta)

The Indian bay leaf (tej patta) tree has the scientific name of Cinnamomum tamala. It belongs to the Lauraceae family and the tree can grow up to 65 feet in height. It is found commonly in India, China, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Used in Indian cuisine quite extensively, the Indian bay leaf is a component of the Indian garam masala. The aromatic leaf infuses cuisine with a flavour similar to that of cinnamon and should not be confused with the bay laurel leaf which has the aroma of pine and lemon. The medicinal properties of the Indian bay leaf are as follows:

  • The Indian bay leaf has enzymes that help break down complex proteins and thus aid in digestion.
  • It has the ability to alleviate the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and celiac disease.
  • Its diuretic and emetic properties allow it to remove toxins from the body.
  • Organic compounds like caffeic acid and rutin help make the capillary walls in the heart strong and reduce bad cholesterol.
  • Some studies show that 1-3 grams of tej patta can allow you to cope with high blood sugar.
  • Linalool in the leaf is known to have stress busting abilities and can be used to combat anxiety and depression.
  • A poultice of the leaves or using the leaf’s essential oil on the chest loosens up phlegm and soothes the symptoms of respiratory problems.
  • The Indian bay leaf’s antimicrobial properties make it a great natural healer.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties make tej patta a good aid to reducing the pain of arthritis.

Recipes of the Goa Anglican Centre

These are the recipes of dishes cooked at the Goa Anglican Centre, a UK registered charity which hosts clergy and volunteers from time to time in Goa.

Chole (serves 6)

Ingredients: 250 gm of chickpeas, two large tomatoes, one medium-sized onion, 1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, ½ tsp cinnamon powder, ½ tsp cardamom powder, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ Kashmiri mirch (red chili powder), 1 ½ tbsp of oil, and salt to taste.

Method: soak the chickpeas overnight and pressure cook them. Sauté the finely chopped onion until it is slightly brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and finely chopped tomatoes. Stir till the tomatoes soften. Add the cinnamon, turmeric, chili and cardamom powders. Mix well and fry for a minute. Then add the pressure-cooked chickpeas, salt, and a cup of water. Cook for 25-30 minutes on a low flame.

Shahi Mughlai Chicken (serves 4-5)

Ingredients: 1 kg chicken (large pieces), 100 gm of curds, 1 large onion, 2 bay leaves, ½ tsp cinnamon powder, ½ tsp cardamom powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp red chili powder, 2 ½ tsp of garam masala, ¼ tsp cumin powder, 1 ½ tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, 2 green chilies, 2 tbsp of oil and salt to taste.

Method: Marinate the chicken pieces with the curds for at least 20 minutes. Fry the bay leaves for a few seconds and add the coarsely chopped onion. Once the onion is slightly brown add the rest of the ingredients and fry for 1 minute. Add the chicken, mix well with the masala and cook on a high flame for 5 minutes. Then add ½ cup of water and cook for 30 minutes.



Peppermint oil (5 drops) can be added to boiled water for steam inhalation. This will curb the sneezing by clearing your nasal passages. You can use eucalyptus oil as well.

Powdered black pepper (1/2 tsp) mixed with warm water should be drunk twice a day to help cope with sneezing.