Indian name and pronounciation:
The Indian name for cloves is Laung or Lavang, pronounced as long or love-ung.
Appearance, taste and smell:
Laung is dark, blackish-brown in color and shaped like a nail. In fact it got its name, thanks to its shape, from the Latin word clavus which means nail! Cloves are highly aromatic and when bit into, taste warm and spicy!
Try to buy cloves whole rather than powdered as the powder soon loses its potency and aroma. When required for use as powder, grind it in a clean dry coffee grinder and use immediately. Look for well formed cloves which when pressed with a fingernail, release some oil and aroma.
Cloves form a very important part of several dry masala powders used in Indian cooking, such as Garam Masala. They are used whole in several curries and also fried with other whole spices like peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon and added to dishes like Pilafs and Biryanis. Clove is rarely used alone in its powdered form in Indian dishes. Store cloves by themselves in a clean, dry glass container with an airtight lid.
- Cloves are the unopened flower bud of the evergreen clove tree. When they are first handpicked, they are pink in color! They are then dried till they turn dark brown.
- Zanzibar in Africa, is the largest producer of cloves in the world today.
- Cloves contains volatile oils whose main component is Eugenol which has anti-inflammatory properties. The flavonoids in cloves also have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties.
Uses other than cooking:
- Cloves are traditionally used in India as a mouth freshener.
- Clove oil applied on a cotton bud or even chewing a single clove relieves toothaches. Clove oil is an important component of many toothpastes.
- According to Ayurveda, cloves improve circulation, digestion and metabolism. They are also used to prevent and treat stomach disorders like distention and nausea.