Cloves A single clove flower dried
Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Cloves are native to Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisine all over the world.
Cloves have historically been used in Indian cuisine as well as in Mexican cuisine, where it is often mixed together with cumin and cinnamon. They are also a key ingredient in tea along with green cardamoms. In the south Indian cuisine, it finds extensive use in the buriyani dish, and is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavour of the rice.
Cloves can easily overpower a dish, particularly when ground, so only a few need be used. Cloves are often used to enhance the flavour of game, especially venison, wild boar and hare. They are used in a number of spice mixtures including curry powders, mulling spices and pickling spices. In India and Yarlpanam cloves are also used to ‘pin' betel chew (pan) adding a sweet flavour.
Cloves contain 15 to 20% essential oil which is mostly Eugenol which is a very strong antiseptic. Clove oil is often applied directly to an aching tooth, bringing immediate relief. Compounded with zinc oxide, it has been used in dentistry as a temporary tooth filling. It is a strong stimulant and carminative and used to treat nausea, indigestion and dyspepsia.
Large amounts should be avoided in pregnancy. Cloves can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, and should be avoided by people with gastric ulcers, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. In overdoses, cloves can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, and upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage.