Safforn - the king of spices is one of the most popular spices in India. Not only it is used to enhance the taste of several dishes, but it is also the first choice of chefs for garnishing the food. The title- King of Spices is perfectly valid for saffron is the most costly spice in the entire world with the demand of consumption rising day by day.
In India, we call it – ‘Kesar’. Basically, saffron or saffron threads are orange-red coloured stigmas of a popular purple flower named the Crocus Sativus.
Why is it popular?
There are many reasons for the popularity of Saffron. Apart from the fact that it imparts a very pleasing flavour to the food and gives it a golden yellow color, Saffron has a very unique aroma which has no substitute till date.
And as you already know that saffron is actually the stigma of a flower, it should be noted that each flower has just 3 stigmas. And these saffron threads are required to be picked from each flower by hand and more than 75000 of such flowers are required to acquire just one pound of saffron. Does this explain why it is the most precious spice of the world?
Nutritional Value of Saffron
Saffron consists of a number of nutrients. It is extremely rich in manganese and also contains high amounts of Vitamin C, copper, phosphorous, iron and potassium.
Where is it used?
To enhance the flavour of Food
Saffron is mostly used to impart an unequalled savour to Indian Curries, Indian Pulaos (Rice based dishes) and Indian Sweets.
The list of recipes in which saffron is used is huge but most commonly, saffron is used to enhance the sapidity of dishes involving cottage cheese, meat, chicken, rice and a number of milk based sweets.
Medicinal importance of Saffron
And if you thought that this spice is only used for enhancing the flavour of food, you are definitely wrong. Like many other Indian spices, saffron has medicinal importance as well. Saffron is considered perfect for curing the stomach ailments and aids in digestion and leads to increase in appetite. So, if you want to get a little fatter, try saffron.
Jokes part, saffron has been used as a drug for infections, depression and as a sedative. It is also considered that saffron might help in conception and regulate women’s menstruation if taken in small quantities. This comes directly from Greek Mythology in which Crocus has had a connection with fertility. The scientific proof for this is rare but in India, this is followed as if it is a proved medicinal fact.
Use of Saffron in cosmetic Industry
Saffron is also used in cosmetic industry. Indian television is piled up with cosmetics commercials flaunting the use of saffron as a key ingredient. It is also used in dyes.
And I can proudly say that different benefits and uses of saffron are still being discovered and each time such a thing happens, the value of this spice increases manifolds.
Tips to buy Saffron
Saffron is available in powdered form as well as in solid thread form. But you must never buy it in powdered form for it may be adultered. Buy the saffron threads and you can check if they are of good quality or not by dipping some of them in water. If after dipping, you can feel the fine aroma, it is good saffron else it is past its age.
Tips to use & store Saffron
To get the complete nip out of saffron, try toasting them and then powdering the threads. You can also steep the saffron in hot water before use.
The threads should be crushed just before the use and they can easily be stored in a cool and dark place up to six months. Make sure that it is away from light and moisture.
If you have ever used saffron, you would have felt proud to have known and used this spice all the time you read this article. Didn’t you? If you haven’t used it, you must try it. It would certainly enhance your love for food and Indian Spices. Give it a try.