Cloves (Syzyium aromaticum) are the dried, unopened flower bud that resembles a small, dark, reddish brown, round-headed nail—the source of its name in many languages. Cloves are a legendary and exceptional ancient aromatic spice, esteemed by cooks in Europe, North Africa, India, and much of Asia. Very intense, cloves have a sweetly fiery taste that’s delicious in small quantities but medicinal if overdone.
Cloves are native to the north Molucca Islands in Indonesia, where the Dutch kept a monopoly on this spice until the eighteenth century. Cloves are much loved by the Chinese, play an important role in Sri Lankan cooking, are extensively used in the Moghul cuisine of northern India, and are popular in the Middle East and northern Africa for adding to meat dishes and rice. In Europe, cloves flavour fruit, sweetbreads, rice, and meat stews and soups. They’re included in many spice mixtures.
- Other Names
- Cengkeh (Indonesian); chiodo di garofano (Italian); clou de girofle (French); clavo de olor (Spanish); cravinho (Portuguese); ding xiang (Chinese); dinh huong (Vietnamese); garifalo (Greek); gram goo (Thai); gvozdika (Russian); kabsh qarunfil (Arabic); karafuu (Swahili); krinfud (Amharic); kruidnagel (Dutch); lavang (Hindi); mikhak (Farsi); nejlikor (Swedish); nelke (German); tsiporen (Hebrew)
- Purchase and Avoid
- Whole cloves are rather expensive but keep well and are only used in small quantities.
- Powdered cloves should be purchased and used in very small quantities; in powdered form cloves can be overpowering.
Add a pinch of cloves to tomato sauce.
Add a pinch of cloves to pea soup, potato soup, bean soups, and cream of tomato soup.
Make German pfeffernüsse cookies, Dutch speculaas cookies, or Greek kourambiedes cookies – all flavoured with cloves.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Spice
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