Saffron (a special ingredient for cuisine) – also called “zafran” is the most expensive spice in the world and has been derived from the crocus blossoms. Due to its world-renowned exotic flavour and aroma, saffron will forever be a staple ingredient, resting in the deepest part of the stores, in many kitchens all over the world. Saffron holds essential chemical elements like crocin (which gives the egg-yolk yellow colour), picrocrocin (which gives the spicy flavour), and safranal (which gives the hay-like aroma) in it. These elements harmonize to make saffron an exotic condiment that mingles well with other herbs and spices and makes any dish a gustatory delight.
As a spice, saffron is known to energize dishes with a pungent, earthy essence and is used as an ingredient in most dishes throughout the world. The color, Flavor & Aroma it adds to the cuisine, comes with a combination with this precious spice. An interesting fact about the regions where crocuses are grown, either for local consumption or commercial production is that dishes that use saffron are being taken into the international scene and served on sophisticated tables. It usually goes well with vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon, cheeses, pastry, pasta, fish and other seafood, chicken, lamb, and tomato-based soups. Saffron rice has come across as a common dish, shared by many countries. Saffron is not only used to amplify the flavour of main course dishes but it also spices up the beverages and desserts. It is such a flexible ingredient(a special ingredient for cuisine).
How to Use Saffron in cuisine / Culinary use of saffron ?
As the heat liberates saffron’s flavour essence, it needs to be soaked in hot water or broth before being added to food. It lets the colour disperse throughout the food. To bring out the flavour and the natural yellow colourant from saffron, steep a teaspoon of threads in three teaspoons of hot but not boiling liquid (oil, water, milk, or broth). Wait for two hours up to overnight or for 24 hours, if you want to have more of its properties. This is the perfect process to gain the optimal essence of saffron. For a quick method though, you can soak one teaspoon of threads in five teaspoons of liquid for about twenty minutes. After this, mash the threads to form a paste or you can also make your powdered condiment. Simply put in enough threads in a heavy skillet heated over low fire. Slowly and steadily toast it, be careful not to burn them, and then grind the threads to powder. Respectively, one teaspoon of threads (about 8 threads) makes a teaspoon of powder.
Do not use wooden utensils when mixing saffron as it tends to absorb saffron easily. Since saffron is an expensive spice, you may not want to waste it.
In India, Kashmir is known for the large scale cultivation of saffron for commercial distribution. The Kashmiri saffron / kaser in Indian cuisine is presented as an ingredient of spice blends like garam masala in rice-meat dishes such as the biryani and its variants and in pulao a jewelled rice dish prepared for banquets and weddings, in desserts such as Kesari bath which is prepared during festivals, in sweets such as kulfi, gulab jamun and double ka meetha. Saffron is also fused with pistachio and cardamom to add flavour to ice cream.
Do You Know?
Studies have shown that saffroncontains the electrolytes sodium and potassium, and is also rich in some other minerals like copper, calcium, magnesium, selenium, manganese, iron, and zinc. Saffron is also a good source of vitamins A, B, and C. So, apparently it works beyond the palate since it has nutritive properties beneficial to health as well. Saffron has a very pleasing strong sweet smell and it only takes a little bit of it to make the dish delicious.
The color it adds to the dish, the flavor it brings out in the dish, and the aroma it gives to you make the saffron “a special ingredient” for your cuisine.