A clove is an aromatic dried flower bud from the Myrtaceae tree which is native to Indonesia. Cloves can be used whole or ground.
Whole cloves are very strong and might be a bit much to handle in most dishes. The ground version can add an aromatic kick without interfering with the texture and other flavours.
Indian cooking with cloves
Cloves are very popular in Indian cuisine and are used in rich and spicy dishes.
North Indian cooking uses cloves in almost every side dish or sauce that they make. Typically, you will find them used ground along with other spices. They are an ingredient of curry powder, widely used in Indian cooking and also in the Indian spice blend garam masala.
Cloves can be found in Biryani dishes and are used to flavour pilau rice. A clove is both a savoury and sweet spice. In some regions of Indian and Pakistan in particular, cloves are used in sweet dishes.
Other style of cooking
Cloves are used in cuisines all over the world and are especially popular in French and Chinese cooking. They are cooked with onions to form many stocks in France and are a key ingredient in the popular Chinese spice blend, Five Spice.
In Western cultures many people might be familiar with using cloves to stud hams. You can even find cloves in Worcestershire sauce!
In Western cultures it is seen as a festive spice and used with oranges and other citrus fruits to create warming scents at Christmas time. Cloves are also a main ingredient of festive favourite mulled wine.
In Indonesia dried cloves are used to flavour masala tea and are used in China and Japan to make perfumes.
Buds are pale to start with, become green and eventually red. It is when they are red they are picked and dried for the market.
Cloves are commonly used in aromatherapy. They help increase stimulation and body temperature and are especially good in treating digestive problems.
They can be used to treat toothache and when applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, they help relieve pain.
They also help to decrease infection in the teeth due to its antiseptic properties.
Clove oil is used in various skin disorders like acne and pimples. It is also used in severe burns, skin irritations and to reduce the sensitiveness of skin.