Cloves are essentially flower buds picked expertly from the clove tree and sun-dried to form the nail shaped spice we all know. Starting off as delicate lemon yellow flowers, transitioning to magenta and finally transforming into the dark brown spice in our kitchens. The fresh buds taste of the faint astringency of a toothpaste!
Historically, cloves were grown exclusively on the spice islands of Makalu in Indonesia and their spectacularly long journey to Mesopotamia via sea and ultimately Europe is testament to this tiny flower and its unforgettable flavour!
Today, Indonesia imports cloves from Madagascar and Zanzibar mostly for its clove-flavored cigarettes called kreteks.
Cloves become a spice when they are taken off the tree. Several chefs have endorsed clove as a sweet spice, rather than a spicy one. This is due to cloves use in desserts, mulled wine, Parsi specialities like Dhansak and Maharashtrian gems like kachi aamti served with puran poli! Hyderabadi dishes explore the spicy side of cloves in biryanis.
Spiciness in cloves is attributed to the astonishingly high percentage of eugenol, an essential oil contained within the ‘head’ of the clove. Surprisingly, this oil’s medicinal properties are used for toothaches too!
Most kitchen’s in the world pay homage to this spice by having a small stash stowed away safely. Cloves are one of those tiny ingredients which represent how far we’ve come in a long spice journey!
Follow #elthecook to find out how we use this irresistible spice in our recipes!
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