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-inflamatory, antibacterial or for its mild anaesthetic property too. A little clove oil rubbed into the gums temperarily 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 ingredients. 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!