Saffron Kesar Kong Jafran Zafran

Saffron Kesar Kong Zafran

Saffron is one of the most precious spices in the world. Popularly also known as Saffron Kesar Kong Zafran; the threadlike red stigmas—and the yellow hue they impart – are quite literally the stuff of legend. But what is saffron, exactly? No matter how many tales have been told about the spice, a lot of us still don’t know what to do with it or whether it’s worth the high cost. In this article we have tried to explain everything you need to know about this legendary spice.

What’s all the Fuss?
Saffron Kesar Kong Zafran

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus Sativus, commonly known as the “Saffron Crocus“. The vivid crimson stigma and styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Saffron has often been referred to as the “Red Gold”. One of the main reasons would be that Saffron has long been considered as the most expensive and delicate spice in the world. Each flower produces only three threads (stigmas) of saffron, and it blooms for only one week each year. The saffron must be harvested — by hand!— in the mid-morning, when the flowers are still closed in order to protect the delicate stigmas inside. Roughly 150 flowers yield 1 g of dry saffron threads; to produce a kilogram, 110,000 – 170,000 flowers would be required, with forty hours of labour needed to pick 150,000 flowers. That’s why the real deal seems so expensive.

The yield of Saffron depends on a yearly basis, depending mainly on weather conditions. As soon as there is less supply in the market the price of Saffron per kilo tends to rise quickly. Many people hold Saffron as their pension savings. As soon as the price tends to go up due to a shortage of supply in the market, people literally take their Saffron savings and sell it on the market. No wonder this delicate spice is also referred to as the “Red Gold”!

Where does it come from?

Almost all saffron grows in a belt bounded by the Mediterranean in the west and mountainous Kashmir in the east. Although some doubts remain on its origin, it is believed that Saffron originated in Iran. However, Greece and Mesopotamia have also been suggested as the possible region of origin of this plant.

Its recorded history is attested in a 7th-century BC Assyrian botanical treatise compiled under Ashurbanipal (the last strong king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 668 BC to c. 627 BC) and it has been traded and used for over four millennia. Currently Iran is the largest producer of saffron in the world. Iran is responsible for around 90–93% of global production, and much of their produce is exported. Other top producers and exporters include Spain, Greece, Morocco and Kashmir. Lately Afghanistan has started emerging as one of the key players in Saffron trade. Microscale production of saffron can also be found in Australia (mainly the state of Tasmania), Canada, Central Africa, China, Egypt, parts of England, France, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden (Gotland), Turkey (mainly around the town of Safranbolu), the United States (California and Pennsylvania).

What does it taste like?

Saffron is extremely subtle and fragrant. The slightly sweet, luxurious taste is totally enigmatic — it’s tricky to describe but instantly recognizable in a dish. As annoying as it is to say, you know it when you taste it. Saffron’s aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, its taste and Iodoform- or hay-like fragrance result from the chemicals Picrocrocin and Safranal. It also contains a carotenoid pigment, Crocin (a colouring pigment and not the commonly known analgesic), which imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles.

How is it used?
Saffron Kesar Kong Zafran

Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European, and Arab cuisines for culinary seasoning and to impart colour. Confectioneries and liquors also often include saffron. Saffron is used in dishes ranging from the jewelled rice and Khoresh of Iran, the Milanese risotto of Italy, the Paella of Spain, the Bouillabaisse of France, to the Biryani with various meat accompaniments in South Asia.

You only need very small quantities of Saffron to impart a very rich, warm taste and smell to your food that can be both powerful and subtle. It is easy to use too much, which may lead to a very predominant odour and flavour.

A word of caution here: when used more, it increases body temperature and in some cases increases the toxic elements in kidneys. Thus, the amount of saffron you use in cooking or alternative treatment is very important.

Saffron has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Its healing effects intrigue scientists as well. It is used in fevers, melancholia, and enlargement of liver and spleen. In Ayurvedic medicine it is used to heal arthritis, impotence and infertility. It has wide range of uses in Chinese and Tibetan medicines as well. Some studies indicate that saffron might be used for anti-carcinogenic purposes as well.

Saffron has also been used as a fabric dye, particularly in China and India, and in perfumery. It is used for religious purposes in India.

Whats the Nutritional Value?

Dried saffron is 65% carbohydrates, 6% fat, 11% protein and 12% water. In a serving of one tablespoon (2 grams), manganese is present as 28% of the Daily Value, while other micronutrients have negligible content.

What do people call it?
Saffron Kesar Kong Zafran

Indian Names:
Hindi : Kesar, Bengali : Jafran, Gujarati : Keshar, Kannada : Kumnkuma kesari, Kashmiri : Kong, Malayalam : Kunkumapoove, Marathi : Keshar / Kesara, Punjabi : Kesar / Zafran Sanskrit : Keshara / Kunkuma /Aruna / Asra / Asrika, Tamil : Kungumapoo, Urdu : Zafran

Foreign Names:-
Spanish : Azafran, French : Safran, German : Safran, Swedish : Saffran, Arabic : Zafran, Dutch : Saffraan, Italian : Zafferano, Portuguese:  Acofrao, Russian : Shafran, Japanese : Safuran, Chinese : Fan Hung-Hua

How do I know if I have the real deal of
Saffron Kesar Kong Zafran

To make sure you’re getting the best stuff, remember the following:

  1. If you put a saffron thread/strand in your mouth and if it tastes sweet…. IT’s FAKE. The mantra lies in using the word sweet correctly, Good saffron should always Smell Sweet and never Taste Sweet.
  2. Another very distinct way of identifying is the aroma. But what about the aroma? One should know the aroma to decide whether it’s right or not. Pure saffron aroma is very interesting, it is literally a blend of Hay and Honey smells.
  3. Put Saffron in water. In some time, it will colour the water. But so can the fake one. The test lies in checking the saffron threads that have been put in water, real ones wouldn’t have lost their original colour, whereas if it is fake, it would be completely discoloured.
Nousheen Hafeez
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