Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in North America. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavour classic French dishes such as bouillabaise and bouillon. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni), and removed before serving. In Indian cuisine, bay leaves are often used in biryani and many salads.
Bay leaves can also be crushed (or ground) before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, and there is less chance of biting into a leaf directly.