It more than makes sense to put the ‘most expensive spice in the world’ at a decent number 5th position in this list after Kopi Luwak, Matsutake Mushroom, Yubari Melon and Caviar. Yes, it’s the saffron or zaffran a.k.a kesar in Hindi, which is easily termed as ‘Prada’ in the spice world!
Just to make things clearer, the expense quotient is directly proportional to either complexity to harvest or scarcity. And we give you reasons for this – saffron is prepared by drying the deep-hued stigmas of the crocus sativus flower and it takes 70,000-250,000 of these carefully hand-picked stigmas to make 1 pound! Also, there’s a time when these must be harvested – which should be just before sunrise to 10 am in the morning! Why so? Because if these are left in the plant for long, they will lose their aroma and colour! Too much of a work!
#9 – Saffron
Saffron is expensive! Infact many feel that is pricier than gold because of the amount of labour that goes behind its harvest. Fortunately, one needn’t require large amounts to add that special touch in their dish, as adding too much might make your dish bitter besides being toxic. Some of the best produce comes from Kashmir in India besides Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Spain and Greece.
A culinary delight
The exotic saffron has its use in a variety of dishes, both national and international. Some of the culinary literature also defines its aroma from scent-like, subtle and flowery to earthy, spicy and even medicinal! We give you some trivia about certain cuisines/dishes in which saffron is used in abundance. Read on…
- Foods like risotto and individual ingredients like potatoes, spinach, eggs, mushrooms and seafood are paired absolutely well with this spice.
- We all know about the flavourful and aromatic Indian ‘Biryanis’ and mithais seldom of which are prepared without the use of saffron. Other international dishes like Spanish ‘Paella’ and ‘Sopas de Pescado,’ Persian ‘Pilaf,’ Moroccan Chicken and Lamb preps and French ‘Bouillabaisse’ also use it.
- Quite a few Italian liqueurs and spirits, like ‘Strega Herbal Liqueur’ and ‘Fernet Branca’ use this as an ingredient in their making.
Best way to use
To use saffron, either infuse a few threads in a cup of hot milk or water and add the coloured liquid towards the end of cooking or crumble the threads and add directly to the pot. Alternatively, dry roast, crumble and then steep the crumbled threads. Unlike other spices, a good pinch will suffice to add flavour and colour in most dishes.
Besides these you can try innovating authentic dishes with a dash of saffron in them. Some of my favourites include Saffron Seafood Bisque, Asparagus with Saffron chilli Cheese Sauce, Kesari Pulao, Kesari Phirni and Orange Caramel Custard with Saffron…the list can just go on and on!
These recipes and a lot more are waiting for you at www.sanjeevkapoor.com. Our YouTube channel sanjeevkapoorkhazana also has a long-list of exciting saffron recipes. Don’t forget to check them out too!
All you need to do now is to go get your pack of saffron (in case you haven’t till now!) and use it the way you want to. Just keep in mind not to overuse! And definitely don’t forget to share your kesar tales and recipes with us. We, as always, will be happy to receive them!
Till we decide on our next top expensive ingredient, do spread the knowledge by sharing and leave your valuable feedback for us!