The Queen of All Spices: Saffron

It’s a spice almost as expensive as gold, and a favorite amongst the richest of the rich since ages. It’s a commodity that smugglers don’t shy away from, and that has also helped build political links in the world – whether it’s between Kashmir and the rest of India, or a more clandestine relationship between the US and Iran.

The spice, the commodity here, is Saffron.

It’s a product that makes premium look commonplace, it has had patrons no less than Cleopatra and Alexander the Great. From Indian biryani to Italian risotto, from a lavish cup of kheer to a perfectly baked cake; dishes from all over wish for saffron to either add flavor to them, or even just garnish them.

It’s Many, Many Benefits…

● Science has now proven that saffron proves to be a great aid in treating people for Parkinson disease, promotes retention of memory, and is useful in curing any age related mental impairment.

● Applying saffron mixed in liquorice and milk can treat you for patchy baldness. It serves a great purpose as for topical application to induce hair growth.

● Just a pinch of saffron in a glass of milk, taken before going to bed at night, can increase vitality and aid as a very effective sex stimulant.

● It is one of the most effective stimulant tonics. Mix it with milk, and apply it over your forehead if you ever have cold and feel feverish.

● Instead of going for any synthetic food additives, which could easily act as an allergy trigger, saffron gives a beautiful yellow while providing a hypoallergenic choice within the acceptance level.

● Taking a spoonful of honey, mixing in a few saffron strands, and applying it to your face improves blood circulation and makes facial skin glow.

● You can easily lighten your tan, if you keep saffron soaked in malai for a night, and apply it the next morning. And because it’s saffron we’re talking about, it won’t fail to add a glow to your skin.

● If yours is an acne-prone skin, you should make a paste by grinding tulsi leaves and saffron together. This paste will have amazing antibacterial properties to aid your skin get rid of any blemishes or pimples.

How Saffron is Made, is What Makes it So Precious

Let’s start by taking in this little piece of information. “To grow about a kilo of saffron, it requires one to have about two football pitches of crocuses; in addition, each and every stigma has to be collected by hand.”

A saffron plant or crocus, as it is called, needs lots and lots of sun to grow. Also, if you try to plant saffron in a swampy region instead of a well draining soil, it will rot. Other than a good soil and sun condition, there’s little that this soil needs while growing.

But, it’s the ucking season that introduces most of the challenges.

What we account for a charming sight to see ladies clad in pherans, plucking the delicate blossoms and piling them up in their pretty little baskets, is not as charming a work. First off, about 75000 flowers provide for just about 1 pound of saffron. Next, these flowers grow really low – no more than six inches from the ground. Now, each flower has beautiful petals, three golden staminas, and one pistil containing three maroon stigmas. But those petals and staminas, however exquisite they might look, have absolutely no value. It is the stigmas growing inside that one pistil that gives us our precious saffron!

That is why, it is almost a norm in Pampore region of Kashmir, for all members of a family to pitch in from dawn till about noon during the plucking season.

To experience the uniqueness of this one-of-a-kind spice, you only have to keep a single strand on your tongue, and let its slow aroma and flavor take over your senses. The only important thing to remember is, store saffron in airtight containers, and put these containers in a dark and cool place. Otherwise, too much of light and moisture could make saffron lose its color and some of its other properties as well.

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