Saffron soliloquy

Saffron soliloquy

Saffron soliloquy
Just a few strands of saffron are enough to add an exotic dimension to pilafs, curries, sweets and marinades. A couple of these thin, red threads impart an additional sparkle to a glass of champagne or apple cider, transforming them into a golden elixir.

Saffron’s cosmetic value is a prized one too, and history tells us that Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, valued it so much that she bathed in saffron-infused milk as a part of her daily beauty regimen. Saffron’s medicinal properties were studied from ancient times, and it has been treasured as a ‘whole body’ protector of health. Science too is acknowledging this fact now.

The saying that every strand of saffron is worth its weight in gold remains well justified, as the spice is not easily available. As a cultivated crop, its origins date back to around 4,000 BC to the pristine valleys of Iran, from where it travelled far and wide and derived its name from the Arabic root word — zafraan.

Genuine saffron yields only to the tender care of hands and the process cannot be mechanised, further adding to its cost. In autumn, each saffron flower produces three stigmas, which are gently handpicked, separated from the white style. They are then sieved and left to cure over a gentle heat which deepens the flavour and imparts a gorgeous colour. This member of the lily family grows in the Mediterranean countries and in Asia. Kashmir produces high-quality saffron, which is popular worldwide.
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