Saffron (Zafran/Kesar)

Saffron is the stigma of the purple crocus flower which yields only three stigmas that are picked by hand then dried. It is because the work of separating the stigma singularly is so laborious, that saffron is the most expensive spice around the world. About 250,000 flowers are harvested to produce 450g/1lb of saffron!

Kashmiri and Spanish saffron is considered to be of the best quality. Saffron is used for flavouring and for its golden colour; it is best to lightly dry roast a pinch of the strands, then crush the saffron into a little warm water or milk and leave to soak for about 30 minutes before use in savoury dishes like biriyani and kormas. Saffron is used to make desserts for example Zarda (sweet saffron yellow rice) and Shrikhand, a yoghurt dessert. Saffron is also used in traditional Asian sweets such as ‘ludoos’ and ‘barfi’.