A clove is the small, brown, nail-shaped spice, once found only in the islands of the Moluccas, east of Bali, and is one of the most prized and ancient spices of the East.. It is used as a flavouring in a variety of Balinese, SE Asian and Indian dishes, and in the West as flavourings in sweet dishes. It is also used to make clove-scented cigarettes, popular in Indonesia. Indian cuisine rarely uses cloves in desserts but it is used in savoury and rice dishes. Many countries use cloves for pickling.
Spice mixes with cloves include Quatre Spices (French), Chinese Five Spice Powder and of course Garam Masala (India).
It is actually the dried flower bud of the myrtle family and is considered one of the most fragrant spices. The flavour is powerful and intoxicating with a slightly astringent ad sweetly pungent flavour. Because of this it should be used sparingly. Best used whole, the cloves are discarded after use. It is not so common to find clove powder, but it is available.
Cloves as well as cardamom pods can be carried in parts of India in tiny silver boxes to use as mouth fresheners when needed. For the same reasons, cloves are always part of the betel leaf enclosed spice mixture that is offered as a digestive at the end of a meal.
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