Laung (Cloves)

Clove - Laung - Lavang
Clove - Laung - Lavang. Image © Sergii Moskaliuk |

Cloves are called Laung (pronounced as long) in Hindi and Punjabi, Lavinga in Gujarati (pronounced as loving), Lavang in Marathi (pronounced as love-ung), Lavankapattai (pronouced as love-ing-aa-putt-aee) in Tamil.

Appearance, Taste, and Smell

Laung or Cloves are dark, blackish-brown in color and shaped like a nail. In fact, they got their name, thanks to their shape, from the Latin word clavus which means nail!

Cloves are highly aromatic and when bit into, taste warm and spicy!

Buying Them

Try to buy cloves whole rather than powdered as the powder soon loses its potency and aroma. When required for use as a 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.

Using Them

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 (khada masala) like peppercorns, cardamom, and cinnamon and added to dishes like Pilafs and Biryanis. They are also used in sweet, hot drinks and desserts as their 'warm' flavor goes well with sugar. 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.

Interesting Facts About Cloves

  • Cloves are the unopened flower bud of the evergreen clove tree. They start out a pale color then turn green an d finally turn a bright reddish pink when they are ready to be picked! Once picked, they are dried till they turn a dark brown color.
  • The World's major producers of cloves are Indian, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar and Tanzania in Africa and Madagascar.
  • Cloves contain 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.
  • In Indonesia, cloves are used to make a type of cigarette. 
  • Clove oil can be used as a repellent to mosquitoes and ants!
  • Clove oil has strong anti-fugal properties so can be used to treat acne and warts.
  • Clove oil applied on a cotton bud or even chewing a single clove relieves toothaches. Clove oil is an important component of many kinds of toothpaste.
  • According to Ayurveda, cloves improve circulation, digestion, and metabolism. They are also used to prevent and treat stomach disorders like distention and nausea.