When I am not cooking, I am reading about it, and the other day, a few words caught my attention “in the battle royal of sweet spices, clove would win every time.”
Laung (as we call it in Hindi) is the bossiest spice I have ever put in gingerbread. But the brash spice is so much more than baking sweet-nothings. A fairly common ingredient in Indian food, because we not only use it whole but also as one of the prominent spices that go into making the ubiquitous garam masala.
In both instances, clove’s flavour journey is worth the exploration.
Laung: Nailing the Flavour
The word clove originates from the French “clou,” which means nail. Considering the spice quite closely resembles rusty nails, the name is fitting.
But what is the spice? It is a flower, actually an unopened bud. Right when the pinkish-red flower is about to bloom, it is picked from the plant and then left to dry to form the spice.
A particularly pungent spice, its hot aroma is reminiscent of menthol or astringent. When it comes to the taste of clove, eugenol is to blame. The bossiness of the spice is all due to the chemical.
As long as the clove is whole, eugenol will dominate. But once your ground it, the sharp tang dissipates swiftly.
Why Use Cloves: The Benefits of the Spice
If you haven’t paid heed to clove, its high time, you do. That chemical found in abundance in the spice? Eugenol? Analgesic to antiviral, it has medicinal properties as long as Rapunzel’s hair.
Tuck a bruised clove between your gum and a painful tooth and the ache will temporarily disappear. Fighting nausea or morning sickness? Clove will come to your rescue. Suffering from a cough that doesn’t seem to abate? Clove does the trick.
It is also a preservative, which is why when refrigerators were all but a pipe dream clove was worth its weight in gold.
Cloves: A Quick How-To
Clove imparts character to virtually everything – drinks (think mulled wine), sweets (think gingerbread) and savories (think rice). But don’t be too liberal with the spice or it’ll run rampant over every other flavor and aroma. That said, the sass and the profound complexity clove adds are indispensable. So, here are some recipes that make fabulous use of it.
If you’re baking something like this pumpkin banana bread, then use ground clove. It brings a spicy depth to the recipe without overwhelming it.
If you’re whipping up a batch of cookies, try this Whole-wheat Chai Spiced Walnut Cookies recipe. The secret ingredient is cloves.
To pump up the curst of a usual pie, add cloves (and a few other spices) like in this Gluten-free Chai Spiced Plum Galette recipe.
If you’re working on a savory, utilize a classic trick. Cut an onion in half, stud 6 to 8 cloves in it and then put it in the broth. From soups to sauces, the technique works on every dish.
Tasha’s Inside Tip
When storing clove, keep it in a cool place. Heat causes clove oil (eugenol) to cake around the container. Also, if you’re grinding cloves at home, stay clear of plastic. The oil ruins plastic parts (think: grinder lid) no matter how much you scrub them afterward.
I hope you are enjoying my #spiceseries blogs.
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