Cloves are one of the oldest and most significant spice used in Indian cooking. They have a pungent flavor and hence used sparingly. Either whole or powdered form is used in cooking. They are the dried flower buds of the tropical trees from Myrtaceae family. They have beautiful pink shade when fresh and when dried, they turn to a rustic-brown color. They were first found in Indonesia and are native to that country. Now cloves are used in all cuisines around the world and are grown in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brazil, Madagascar and Pakistan. Cloves are also used in the production of perfumes.
Cloves are hard and it is easier to grind them in an electric grinder. They can be stored in air tighter container in a cool dark place to retain freshness.Cloves are used for making both sweet and savory dishes. Indians make masala chai using cloves and powdered cloves are a key ingredient in “Garam Masala”. In South Indian cooking cloves are used in the preparation of biryani and other spicy curries.
I remember chewing cloves for digestive and dental problems. My granddad will insist on chewing 3-4 cloves to relieve toothache. They are well known to relieve flatulence and also help to promote digestion. Elders at home would recommend applying powdered cloves with castor oil over the stomach or abdomen to relieve stomach discomforts. Cloves tend to increase the body temperature, hence its use is limited during the summer season in India. Cloves have antiseptic and anesthetic properties and are a key ingredient used in Ayurvedic treatments. It was also considered an aphrodisiac in China.
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