Using Saffron (Kesar) in Indian Cooking
Saffron is a spice that starts its life as the long crimson coloured stigma (the long bit in the middle the flower) of the Crocus Stivas plant also called the saffron crocus. Each plant has about four flowers and each flower has three stigma.
It is one of the most expensive spices because the cultivation process is very labour intensive. The flower opens for a very sort period of time (days) and its only then that the stigma's can be hand picked.
The flower grows in regions from the Mediterranean through to Iran and Kashmir.
Saffron is used for imparting its wonderful golden-orange colouring but it also have a flavour which is usually described as hay or grass like. It is used in sweets, confectionary, savoury and rice dishes. I usually soak the stigma in warm milk or water to draw out the colour and flavour.
It also has a history of medical and healing applications from having anti-carcinogenic and oxidant type properties and it has been documented for helping people with depression.
Saffron is used for the most decadent of dishes from briyani's to wonderful confectionery. predominately for colour but also for its gentle flavour too.Back to Cooking guides