Saffron is derived from the saffron crocus flower. It is the only spice that comes from a flower. Saffron threads are orange-red in color, and when prepared, it provides a yellow-orange color to the dish.
About 75,000 flower threads are removed from flowers and left to dry for weeks to make 1 lb of saffron. It is a laborious process, making saffron the most expensive spice in the world.
You can use saffron strands for sweet as well as savory cooking. In Indian cuisine, they use it in sweets, curries, rice dishes (biryanis and pulao), and bread. You will find saffron being used in many cuisines worldwide, including French, Middle-eastern, and other South Asian cuisines.
Ayurveda recommends the consumption of saffron for its health benefits. It is anti-inflammatory, increases immunity, and balances all three doshas in our body.
While purchasing saffron, make sure you purchase saffron stigmas to avoid counterfeit. Store saffron in a dark, cool place away from sunlight and use it within 2-3 years of purchasing it. You will often find saffron powder, which might have mixed with paprika and/or turmeric. Most of the saffron is made in Iran, India, or Spain; however, many other countries have started making saffron.
Store saffron in a dark cool place away from sunlight, and use it within 2-3 years of purchasing it.
While cooking, use a few strands of saffron at a time, soak them in warm water/milk for half an hour for best results, and then use the infused water as well as soaked threads in your cooking.
When using saffron, make sure you are not using many ingredients in the recipe; otherwise, the saffron flavor will not be as pronounced.
Do not boil saffron, or else it will lose its flavor.
Use a plastic/metal spatula. If you use wooden spatulas, some of the flavors will get absorbed into the wood, reducing the flavor in the recipe.
Here are some of our recipes to help you cook with saffron: