Cloves in My Spice Cupboard



Cloves (lavang or laung) are the dried flower buds of an evergreen tree.  It’s heady aroma immediately wafts out of my spice box when it’s opened.  It has a strong distinct woodsy smell, and a bite into the bud will immediately release a warm sweet heat in your mouth.

In Indian cooking, cloves are seldom used in desserts.  They are generally reserved for savory foods.  A single bud of clove will heavily perfume a pot of boiling rice.  And I particularly think cloves pair really well with yogurt in marinades for dark meats, such as goat and lamb.

This fragrant spice is ground to a powder and included in the preparation of a delicate Biryani.  Biryani is a flavorful rice dish full of spices and tangy flavor and this exquisite dish is reserved for weddings, special occasions and religious or cultural holidays.




Cloves are one of the key components in most gharam masalas.  Gharam masala is an Indian spice blend that is unique to each family or culture, and may include peppercorns, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, as well as cloves, amongst other spices!

Clove oil can be used as an anti inflammatory, antibacterial or for its mild anesthetic property too.  A little clove oil rubbed into the gums temporarily relieves a toothache.

Here’s a little take back in time of when I was a young budding cook.  I was about twelve or so, and I decided to make soup for my grandma.  I seriously feel the need to impress her.  I spent what felt like hours cutting the vegetables perfectly and slicing the chicken into neat little cubes.  But all hell broke loose when I threw in loads of whole spices, I went absolutely batty with the cloves and threw in between fifteen to twenty odd cloves!  I was horrified when I tasted the soup after hours of simmering.  It tastes like dish soap!  I was so embarrassed and felt defeated in some way, who knows why?  Although, I’m sure my grandma didn’t think any of it.  As of that day, I’ve been using cloves with extreme caution.  And I would caution you to do so as well!

Heres the recipe to the soup I made, obviously minus the million buds of cloves.




I really enjoy adding ground cloves to several cookie recipes, especially if they involve ginger as an ingredient.  These two spices do well together.

I have recently experimented with adding a teeny bit of clove powder to a white fish sautéing in a lemon ghee sauce, and the clove complimented the fish really well.

So go ahead give cloves a try if you must!  It will be fun! Just a few words .. use with caution!


25 thoughts on “Cloves in My Spice Cupboard

  1. I love finding a clove in my basmati rice, and don’t know why I haven’t never done this myself at home. Thanks for the idea! Also love the story about your grandmother and the soup. 🙂


  2. I must be honest; not my favorite spice – it is very strong and I don’t like it when a whole pod ends up in a mouthful of food, but it is good when used subtly.


  3. Oh I so love putting cloves in rice – reminds me of Zimbabwean Indian weddings. Huge pots of rice being cooked over a natural outdoor fire. Remember?
    Oh and mulling it in some apple cider is great for the holidays 😀


  4. Enjoying how you give me a fresh take on what I thought were familiar spices. Usually think of cloves as being poked into oranges at Christmas time. Or stirring ground into a gingerbread cookie dough. But now that you’ve mentioned it, it sounds like a natural in yogurt. Yum! And the story about making soup for your grandma is lovely. Food is a wonderful thing, to connect us to memories like that. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  5. No spice mix would be complete without the addition of a few cloves. Yes, clove is a strong spice and as you mentioned, less is more. If chewed raw, it can go the the extend of numbing the mouth. I even use it as an insecticide to spray on indoor plants.


  6. I love the smell of cloves in the winter. Funny story..I like to simmer apple cider with cinnamon on the stove as a way to make the house smell nice in the fall and winter..the other day I threw in some cloves and later discovered the house smelled like biriyani!


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