- Serves: 1
- Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
Culinary use: Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly.
Cloves is used in Indian cuisine (both North Indian and South Indian). In North Indian cuisine, it is used in almost all rich or spicy dishes as an ingredient of a mix named garam masala, along with other spices. In the Maharashtra region of India it is used sparingly for sweet or spicy dishes, but rarely in everyday cuisine. In south Indian cuisine, it is used extensively in biryani along with "cloves dish" (similar to pilaf, but with the addition of other spices), and it is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice. Dried cloves are also a key ingredient in Indian masala chai, spiced tea, a special variation of tea popular in some regions, notably Gujarat. In the US, it is often sold under the name of "chai" or "chai tea", as a way of differentiating it from other types of teas sold in the US.
In Mexican cuisine, cloves are best known as "clavos de olor", and often used together with cumin and cinnamon.
Due to the Indonesian influence, the use of cloves is widespread in the Netherlands. Cloves are used in cheeses, often in combination with cumin. Cloves are an essential ingredient for making Dutch speculaas. Furthermore, cloves are used in traditional Dutch stews like hachee.
Cloves are often used to enhance the flavour of game, especially venison, wild boar and hare. In Namibian traditional farm cuisine, it is used extensively in most game stews. Also used in combination with other spices to spice carrot cake, German lebkuchen and Hot Cross buns for easter
They are used in a number of spice mixtures including ras el hanout, curry powders, mulling spices and pickling spices. Cloves also figure in the flavour of Worcestershire sauce.
Cloves have many medicinal properties. They are stimulating and have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic properties. They are also a natural anesthetic (due to the eugenol oil). They were often used for dental procedures in centuries past and are still used in some cultures to remedy toothache.
Additionally, dentists have used clove oil as an oral anesthetic. They also used it to disinfect root canals. Clove oil still is an active ingredient in several mouthwash products and a number of over-the-counter toothache pain-relief preparations.
It is the oil that is derived from the cloves that is so powerful, and this is often used for medicines both topically and internally. This oil contains compound that helps with blood circulation and can stimulate the skin when applied directly to it. Cloves are said to have a positive effect on stomach ulcers, vomiting, flatulence, and to stimulate the digestive system.
Clove contains antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent the cell damage that scientists believe eventually causes cancer.
On the other hand, in laboratory tests, the chemical eugenol, has been found to be a weak tumor promoter,making clove one of many healing herbs with both pro- and anti-cancer effects. At this point, scientists aren't sure which way the balance tilts. Until they are, anyone with a history of cancer should not use medicinal amounts of clove. For otherwise healthy non-pregnant, non-nursing adults, powdered clove is considered nontoxic.
Cloves kill intestinal parasites and exhibits broad anti-microbial properties against fungi and bacteria, thus supporting its traditional use as a treatment for diarrhea, intestinal worms, and other digestive ailments. Like many culinary spices, Cloves helps relax the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract. They are well known for relieving flatulence and can actually help promote good digestion as well as metabolism. They may also help relieve vomiting.
Muscle spasms can be relieved if the cloves are applied as a topical ointment, at the same time, the anti-spasmodic action of the clove also aids in the alleviation of coughs and other problems of the respiratory system.
Mix up a small amount of ground cloves with a drop or two of water to put on insect stings and bites with good results because of its anaesthetic effect.
It has been found that a lemon or orange stubbed with cloves can be used a natural insect repellant in the kitchen for flying insects including flies, mosquitos, and moths. Making a pomander is fun and full of fragrant and can serve as an ornamental gift.
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