Clove as spice in the kitchen


How to use clove in recipes

Being one of the oldest spices, cloves are extensively used in the cuisine of many parts of the world.

It is part of most of the best known sauces and it is used in the preparation of cakes, biscuits, mashed vegetables, meat, canned fruit, beverages, liquor, etc.

Similarly, cloves take part of many industrial food preparations such as ketchup or sauce Worchestershire.

Clove as a spice

It is said that clove is the spice that more faithfully represents the Asian soul.

Its flavor is intense, fresh, slightly peppery and with an Oriental touch.

Clove provides an intense, exciting, clean scent. It should be used sparingly and in small doses to not be too sharp.

Some dry cloves

Some dry cloves


Clove is used in many cuisines of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Among the major cuisines of the world where it usually appears we include the following:

Clove in the kitchen of Asia.

In China, clove is a quite used spice. It takes part in the Dust of 5 Chinese spices, along with a variety of Chinese cinnamon, anise, star anise and ginger.

It is said that this spice mixture meets the five basic tastes of Chinese cuisine: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and “uanami”, which is the 5 taste of oriental cuisine, meaning “tasty” in Japanese.

In Northern India, clove is a popular spice, especially the north, corresponding to Kashmir and Punjab. In these areas, clove is part of a Cuisine of Muslim origin known as “korma” or what the Iranians call “gorme”. It is a cuisine where food, mainly lamb, rice or vegetables are simmered in a broth previously prepared.

Sauces or soups are made with staples such as onions, ginger and garlic. These foods are added a series of spices, which are those that provide you the very particular aroma, such as cinnamon and cloves, previously fried in butter. Later, to reduce some strong flavor, they add yogurt and other spices such as fennel or cumin.

A dish widely used is “Biryani” which is made with basmati rice and spices (cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom, coriander and cloves). Vegetarians add vegetables and non-vegetarians use to provide lamb meat turkey and chicken.

In southern India, clove is also critical. In the Tamil cuisine clove is one of the ingredients of curry which in Tamil precisely means “sauce”. The main basis of curry would be cumin, turmeric and coriander. Other spices like cloves, nutmeg, pepper or garlic be added.

Another widely used in this country is garam masala sauce, which is essentially based on spices like cloves, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and cardamom. Sometimes other herbs or spices are added, such as bay leaf, fennel, coriander, turmeric and chili peppers.

These spices are poured to the dishes after cooking, to achieve greater aroma, as this would be lost if it should be added during cooking.

clavo de olor

Woman showing some cloves in Sri Lanka

Clove in the kitchen of Africa

Using clove in North Africa is very common in countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. This species was first used in the seventh century.

Clove can enter in the couscous recipe, base plate in these countries, made from durum wheat semolina grind coarsely. Wheat is cooked in a broth in which they have poured a series of spices

In Africa the use of clove is unresponsive to traditional native kitchen but it appeas in the east, within Swahili kitchen. The use of spices like cloves, saffron and cinnamon in this area was brought by the Arabs when they settled in the east of the continent in the X century

Currently they are serving dishes to accompany steamed rice. In Ethiopia, clove is added to coffee to give it more flavor.

The use of spices in West Africa is very old because they have several native species of peppers, as a kind of black pepper called “grains of paradise” (Aframomum melegueta).

They also have other spices that joined their kitchen as a result of their trade with the Arabs in the Middle Ages. Among them, cloves and cumin. Traditional or new spices can be used, for example, for cooking boiled fish in a spicy sauce.

These spices can also be used to flavor Egusi soup, performed with native pumpkin seeds with some boiled water and oil. This broth can be complemented with vegetables or meat.

Clove as a spice in European cooking

In the European kitchen, the use of clove is not so common, because in general, it is considered to be a too strong spice.

However, there are multiple kitchens and preparation where it can be found. For example, it is common in many parts of Europe to add a couple of cloves to boiled white rice to give it more flavor.

In Mediterranean cuisine, Greek cuisine, which is using more herbs and spices of all Mediterranean cuisines, they use this spice in the stew, along with cinnamon.

Typical dishes are the Bekri Meze, a veal and pork dish marinated with wine over low heat with cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, olive oil and bay leaves.

In Italian cuisine, the cuisine of Sicily is the one that makes more use of clove. Another related to this kitchen, Cypriot cuisine, prepares great fried squids in butter and stuffed with rice seasoned with cloves and cumin then roasted on the grill.

In French cuisine clove is used primarily for meat stew. Typical dishes are, for example, the duck cassoulet.

In the English kitchen it is part of many pickles in vinegar, as the famous spicy green tomatoes.

German cuisine uses it especially to flavor and season meat and cookies, as the famous gingerbread and cloves.

Clove in the American kitchen

Clove, along with cumin and cinnamon, are mainly used in South America. In Latin American cuisine it is important to use spices especially in desserts.

In Brazil recipes such as bread pudding, made with dry bread and milk. To spice it, pieces of cloves and dried orange peel.

Well known are the little kisses, kisses or Beijinhos, coconut cakes that are eaten at birthday parties. To decorate and provide a good aroma dry nail is embedded above them.

In Argentina Anchi is a popular dessert made of maize meal. It is sweetened with sugar and flavored with lemon juice and cloves.

In the Andes, morocho recipes are well known, a variety of corn, boiled with milk. To this they add raisins, cinnamon and cloves.

Clove as a spice for wine, spirits and soft drinks

Most hot, spicy and sugary Nordic wines, called glogg, carry clove as an ingredient. These wines correspond to what the Germans call Glühwein, a type of hot red wine and dessert made with cinnamon, sugar and cloves.

These wines are usually taken at Christmas. The Nordic countries tend to add ginger, raisins and chopped almonds. Sometimes they replace grape wine wine by blackcurrants to get a soft drink. This type of wine is manufactured also in other parts of Europe and the world, being roughly an equivalent to what the French call vin chaud, the Brazilian Quentão, the Chilean navegado, or the Russian Glintwein.

Another spirits associated with Christmas in Germany and the Nordic countries is Wassail punch. It is a kind of drink that originated in the Middle Ages and was basically composed of beer spiced with cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. It is sweetened with sugar and was completed with toast or bread soup.

Today the original recipe has changed a lot and is usually prepared with lemon juice, orange juice and apple cider. Besides the above spices, a lot of clove is usually added.

Some cloves are well suited to flavor sangria, Spanish beverage formed of red wine, sliced ​​fruit, rum and sweetened with sugar or honey.

punto rojo More information on clove.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

31 May, 2022

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