Saffron (Hindi Name: kesar or keshar) is the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus and is the world's most expensive spice. The saffron strands are strongly perfumed bright orange-red colored, thread-like, each measuring 2.5 - 4 cm in length. It takes 75,000 blossoms or 250,000 hand-picked stigmas to make one pound of saffron.
You must have eaten saffron rice. Saffron spice is used in some Indian recipes for rice and desserts.
It is a native of the Mediterranean and is now imported primarily from Spain. Saffron is also cultivated in India, China, Turkey, and Iran. Saffron is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, carminative, and sedative. In Indian ayurveda, saffron is used as an aphrodisiac, a cure for arthritis, asthma, to reduce fever and healing the liver. A research carried out at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, reported in April 2008, shows that saffron might also offer an antidote to premenstrual syndrome, i.e. improvement in depression symptoms.
Flavour of Saffron: A pungent bitter-honey taste.
It gives a brilliant yellowish hue and anaromatic flavor. The colouring properties and unique flavour of saffron make it useful in some dishes. It is used in Moorish, Mediterranean, and Asian (Indian) cuisines & recipes. Saffron rice recipe is world famous.
Because of its intense flavour, and strong coloring properties, very little saffron is required. Soak a pinch of saffron in a cup of warm wate to create the desired flavour and colour for dishes like saffron rice pulao (pilau), Italian rice dishes, cakes, or desserts. In many Indian dessert recipes saffron is used for flavor and color.
Saffron comes in thin threads. Never buy powered saffron. Look for genuine brand as many immitations are sold in market. Whole dried saffron threads that have a deep orange color are best.
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