Coined from the Arabic word Zafaran, which means yellow, saffron is derived from the beautiful saffron crocus flower and is a greatly esteemed and expensive spice in the world that is worth its weight in gold – literally!
Cultivated since more than 3,000 years, saffron is a gorgeous and potent spice that’s hand-harvested from the flower of crocus sativus, better known as saffron crocus. Mostly associated with Spanish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, saffron has myriad uses that range from cooking, colouring, perfuming to promoting good health.
Saffron’s unique taste combined with its equally exceptional aroma effortlessly adds depth and richness in both sweet and savoury dishes. As a matter of fact, Iranian cuisine cannot be imagined without saffron — even ice-creams in Iranian cuisine are flavoured with it!
Saffron is a very delicate spice that absorbs flavours from other food very easily. The best way to store saffron is in an airtight container, in a cool and dark place, in which case it can last for many years. Chef Moghadam of Ritz Carlton-Doha says, “Saffron is often called the queen of spices, and it should be treated with the same respect that any royalty demands.” He advises that it should ideally not be exposed to sunlight or moisture.
This versatile spice is highly admired in Iranian cooking. Several rice based dishes and sweet delicacies are
saffron-kissed to enhance their credibility. Characteristically, Iranian cuisine frequently uses fresh elements and is a combination of rice, meat or fish that are delicately spiced with herbs and nuts. Saffron is the star ingredient used for flavouring, along with lime, cinnamon and parsley.
Go ahead and treat yourself with this exquisite delight this new season.
– Nargis Namazi