Clove, scientifically known as Syzygium aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata, is a tropical evergreen tree belonging to the family Myrtaceae. It is native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia and is extensively cultivated in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Madagascar.
The tree can grow up to a height of 8-12 meters and has large, glossy leaves and crimson flowers that develop into aromatic flower buds, which are used as a spice. The essential oil extracted from the buds is also used in various industries, including perfumes, soaps, and dental care products.
Cloves are a spice that comes from the flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree. They are commonly used in cooking and have a strong, sweet, and aromatic flavor. Here is the nutritional information for one teaspoon (2.1 grams) of ground cloves:
Protein: 0.1 grams
Fat: 0.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 1.3 grams
Fiber: 0.7 grams
Sugar: 0.1 grams
In addition to these macronutrients, cloves are also a good source of several micronutrients. One teaspoon of ground cloves contains approximately:
Manganese: 32% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin K: 2% of the DV
Calcium: 1% of the DV
Iron: 1% of the DV
Cloves have a long and fascinating history, dating back thousands of years. Originally grown in the Moluccas, a group of islands in Indonesia, they were highly prized in ancient times for their medicinal properties, as well as for their use as a spice.
Arab traders brought cloves to Europe in late antiquity, and they quickly became a luxury item, used by wealthy cooks to flavor their dishes. In fact, cloves were so expensive that they were often used as a form of currency, with rulers and merchants accepting them in place of money.
During the Age of Exploration, European explorers began to search for the source of cloves, to secure a steady supply of this valuable spice. The Portuguese were the first to discover the Moluccas, and they established a trading post on the island of Ternate in the early 16th century. However, they were soon displaced by the Dutch, who established a monopoly on the clove trade that lasted for more than a century.
The Dutch went to great lengths to protect their monopoly, including building a series of forts on Ternate and the surrounding islands, and even burning clove trees on neighboring islands to limit the supply.
Despite the efforts of the Dutch, cloves eventually spread to other parts of the world, and they are now grown in many different countries, including Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, and Tanzania. Today, cloves are used in various cuisines, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia to Africa.
They are particularly popular in meat dishes, where their strong flavor and aroma can add depth and complexity. They are also key ingredients in many spice blends, such as Chinese five-spice powder, Indian garam masala, and Arabic baharat.
In addition to their culinary uses, cloves continue to be valued for their medicinal properties. They have been used for centuries to treat various ailments, including toothaches, digestive issues, and respiratory problems. Clove oil, extracted from buds, is a powerful antiseptic and has been used in many different applications, from dental treatments to insect repellent.
Dental health: Cloves have antimicrobial properties that can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Clove oil is often used by dentists to treat dental problems.
Pain relief: The eugenol in cloves has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties that can help alleviate toothaches, headaches, and other types of pain. Clove oil can be applied topically to the skin for pain relief.
Anti-inflammatory: Cloves have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain associated with conditions like arthritis and other inflammatory disorders.
Digestive health: Cloves can aid digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. They can also help relieve gas, bloating, and indigestion.
Respiratory health: Cloves have expectorant properties that can help loosen phlegm and mucus in the respiratory system. They can also help alleviate coughs and other respiratory problems.
Blood sugar control: Cloves may help regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in cells. This can be beneficial for people with diabetes.
Immune system support: Cloves have antioxidant properties that can help protect the body against oxidative stress and free radicals. They can also help strengthen the immune system.
Cardiovascular health: Cloves may help improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammation.
Skin health: Cloves have antiseptic properties that can help treat skin infections and wounds. They can also help reduce acne and other skin problems.
Cancer prevention: Cloves contain compounds that may have anticancer properties and can help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells.
- Choose whole cloves instead of ground cloves, as they retain their flavor and aroma better.
- Look for cloves that are plump and firm, with a rich, reddish-brown color.
- Avoid cloves that are soft, moldy, or have a dull color.
- Store cloves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
- Ground cloves have a shorter shelf life than whole cloves, so use them within six months of purchase.
- Whole cloves can be stored for up to a year if stored properly.
- To check if your cloves are still fresh, crush one between your fingers and smell it. If the aroma is strong and pungent, the cloves are still good. If they don’t have much of a smell, they may have lost their flavor.
3 cups water
3 black tea bags
1-inch ginger, sliced
4-5 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup milk
Sugar, to taste
- In a saucepan, bring water to a boil.
- Add ginger, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick to the water.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Add tea bags and simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add milk and sugar, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
- Strain the tea and serve hot.
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can)
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt, to taste
Oil, for cooking
- Heat oil in a pan and add the cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaf. Saute for a few seconds until fragrant.
- Add the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Then add the onions and saute until they turn golden brown.
- Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute until fragrant.
- Add the coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric, and red chili powder (if using) and saute for a minute until fragrant.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and cook for 5-7 minutes until the tomatoes turn mushy and the oil separates from the sides.
- Add the cooked chickpeas and mix well. Add water as needed to adjust the consistency of the curry.
- Simmer the curry for 10-15 minutes until the chickpeas are cooked through and the flavors have blended well.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or naan.