A pillar of spice cookery. A classic to be rediscovered and used often though sparingly.
Two or three cloves can go a long way to improving your cooking. Our grandmothers knew that one clove stuck in an onion or two cloves added with other spices would improve most dishes like soups and stews.
India is not generally recognized as a favored clove growing terroir, which is why we were so taken aback by the amazing quality of the cloves grown in the South west of the country by Najeeb and Sihab. After several visits, we did finally manage to convince these two producers to hand-harvest only the buds of flowering clove bouquets that were ripe for the picking – everyday – just for us. Picking ripe buds every day, as opposed to a general harvest which then leads to selection, assures us of having the very best, at their peak. Most of our cloves have a light colored head indicating that they were harvested only a few hours before the pink buds burst into a flower.
Najeeb and Shihab, or the clove twins, as we like to call them, were introduced to us by Sudheer, our long-time friend and main spice supplier in India. From the moment we visited their clove plantation, we understood why he was so insistent we meet them: their peerless product is worth the long journey.