Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum, syn. Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata) The clove tree is an evergreen which grows to a height ranging from 8-12 m, having large square leaves and sanguine flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.52 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the center.
Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly.
Cloves have historically been 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, although it is not an everyday ingredient for home cuisine, nor is it used in summer very often. In Maharashtra, it is used sparingly for sweet or spicy dishes, but rarely in everyday cuisine. On the whole, Ayurveda categorizes it as having an effect of increasing heat in system, hence the difference of usage by region and season. 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.
In Vietnamese cuisine, cloves are often used to season the broth of PhÃ¡Â»Å¸.
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.
Medicinal and nostrums.
Cloves are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and western herbalism and dentistry, where the essential oil is used as an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves are used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural anthelmintic. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming are needed, especially for digestive problems. Topical application over the stomach or abdomen are said to warm the digestive tract. The use of a clove in toothache is also said to decrease pain. It also helps to decrease infection in the teeth due to its antiseptic properties. Clove oil, applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, also relieves toothache.
It is also used in severe burns, skin irritations and to reduce the sensitiveness of skin.
Cloves may be used internally as a tea and topically as an oil for hypotonic muscles, including for multiple sclerosis.This is also found in Tibetan medicine. Some recommend avoiding more than occasional use of cloves internally in the presence of pitta inflammation such as is found in acute flares of autoimmune diseases.
In West Africa, the Yorubas use cloves infused in water as a treatment for stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhea. The infusion is called Ogun Jedi-jedi.
Western studies have supported the use of cloves and clove oil for dental pain. However, studies to determine its effectiveness for fever reduction, as a mosquito repellent and to prevent premature ejaculation have been inconclusive. Clove may reduce blood sugar levels.