Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong they are used sparingly. The spice is used throughout Europe and Asia and is smoked in a type of cigarettes locally known as kretek in Indonesia and in occasional coffee bars in the West, mixed with marijuana to create marijuana spliffs (joints). Cloves are also an important incense material in Chinese and Japanese culture. Clove essential oil is used in aromatherapy and oil of cloves is widely used to treat toothache in dental emergencies.
Cloves have historically been used in Indian cuisine (both North Indian and South Indian). In the north indian cuisine, it is used in almost every sauce or side dish made, mostly ground up along with other spices. They are also a key ingredient in chai tea along with green cardamoms. In the south indian cuisine, it finds extensive use in the biryani dish (similar to the pilaf, but with the addition of local spice taste), and is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice.
Along with the recreational uses of cloves, they are also said to be a natural anthelmintic.
Cloves are ingredients in many classic spice mixtures. Whole cloves are frequently used to flavour cooking liquids for simmering fish, poultry, game and meat. They feature in classic sauces and are used in the bakery industry and the processed meats industry as a ground spice.