Cloves are one of the most popular spices in the world. They belong to a group of spices commonly referred to as flower spices, and have a strong and sweet aromatic flavour. As a spice, they are the flower buds of the evergreen clove tree, and can either be used whole or ground. The distinct, numbing flavour and aroma of cloves are attributed to the essential oil they contain known as eugenol.
Cloves are usually cultivated in countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Madagascar, Indonesia and Tanzania. Since they are widely harvested in different parts of the world during different seasons, cloves are always available throughout the year. Originally, they were found only in a few islands near Indonesia, and European explorers fought hard to gain control of these islands since they were the only place where cloves grew.
As a spice, cloves are commonly used in the cuisines of a number of countries including Asian, Mexican, African and Middle Eastern countries. They are used to add a delicious flavour to all kinds of dishes from curries, baked goods, BBQ sauces, pumpkin dishes, etc., and are also used to marinate meat and fish. Cloves can eb used to add flavour to hot beverages as well.
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