When you hear the word ‘Saffron’ probably you remember the exotic aroma, beautiful golden color and unique flavor of this super food in delicious dishes and desserts you have enjoyed before but the truth is, it has many other uses besides culinary arts. It has been used in medicine, cosmetic, fragrance and textile industries for thousands of years in many countries.
In this article, we will reintroduce Saffron and explain how it is used around the world. You will appreciate it more after knowing it is a universal treasure.
Saffron uses in different countries:
Saffron is a unique and exquisite spice derived from the flower of Crocus plant that only grows in a few locations in the world and requires delicate processing. For this reason, it is the most expensive spice in the world and thus deserving the title of ‘red gold’. But the high price tag doesn’t prevent it from being used extensively. Many cultures traditionally incorporate saffron in their daily life and practices:
Spanish are so proud of their culinary arts with ‘azafron’ that they hold an annual festival for the most delicious saffron flavored dish. Paella always tops the list but Zarzuela and Arroz a Banda are also the winners. Paella is a rice dish colored with saffron and combined with seafood or meat. They also commonly use it for medical purposes to treat modern diseases such as Alzheimer or Diabetes.
Ancient Romans burnt ‘Zafferano’ in religious ceremonies and used it to treat liver and lung disorders. Modern Italians incorporate it in famous dishes like Milanese Risotto which is a simple and elegant rice dish combined with white wine, beef, parmesan and saffron. They even make bread and liquor with it.
French love ‘safron’ so much that every year they hold a festival in Cajarc where it is used extensively in variety of dishes like pig trotter with saffron sauce. They are passionate about their national cuisine and Bouillabaisse is the most famous saffron flavored dish made with 4 different fishes in stew style. They also use it in famous French perfumes to create distinctive notes.
The ancient Greek mythology claims that ‘Krokos Kozanis’ flower was the blood of a dead Spartan named Krokos who was friend with the God Hermes. In another story, the flowers filled the earth when Zeus made love with Hera! Even Homer called it ‘gold of the Greek earth’. Due to its importance, it is extensively used in traditional medicine and spiritual rituals as well as Greek cuisine such as rice pilaf. This dish is simply made with rice, yellowed with saffron and complimented with vegetables and meat or sea food.
Ancient Egyptian incorporated ‘Zaferan’ in medicine and beauty like no others. Cleopatra is famous for bathing in milk and saffron. It was and still is used in treating gastrointestinal problems, eye disorders and menstruation irregularity and even to induce labor. Enhancing sexual desire and healing infertility is the most common usage. It is also generously added to variety of dishes such as Freekeh pilaf or Basbousa dessert. This sweet treat is made with semolina, coconut and hazelnut coated with saffron flavored syrup.
‘Kesari’ was an indicator of wealth in ancient India and was extensively used to show off social and financial status of elites. It played a major role in wedding ceremonies and religious rituals to create pleasant odor and mark the forehead of the bride, groom or pilgrims. Its golden yellow color is still the most important color for the Buddhists and chosen for their robes which used to be dyed with it. Ayurvedic medicine relies on healing properties of the spice for balancing doshas in the body. That is why it is the main ingredient in many Indian dishes including Biryani. The dish combines rice, meat and spices including saffron.
Chinese use ‘Zang Hong Hua’ in traditional medicine for blood circulation and to clear heart and liver meridians. It is also carefully utilized for uterus disorders and enhancing brain and nervous system. It is considered neutral so it doesn’t disturb Yin and Yang balance in the body. Culinary uses of saffron are surprisingly limited in Chinese cuisine!
Finally ‘Zaferan’ in its homeland has been used for thousands of years in many aspects of life. It was an integral part of spiritual practices to create purifying scents, painting and writing holy books and washing dead bodies. The Immortal warriors of Achaemenid Empire wore armors dyed with it.
It still remains valuable as gold and thus a perfect choice when it comes to giving gift. The famous Persian rice is not complete without it and delicious dishes such as Kebab and Zereshkpolo along with sweet treats like Sholezard and traditional ice cream rely on the golden color and aroma of this spice. Sholezard is a kind of rice pudding colored heavily with saffron and decorated with cinnamon powder and sliced almonds.
Its healing properties have been well utilized to treat depression, insomnia, menstruation irregularity and related PMS. Its potent antioxidant ability is used to treat inflammation and improving heart function, eyesight and facial complexion. It even helps enhance intoxication of wine while preventing hangover. It is now a hot remedy in weight loss programs because of its role in reducing appetite. In the current climate of COVID-19 pandemic, it is widely recommended for strengthening immune system and detox.
At Nabet Saffron, we are a leading exporter in Iran, offering highest quality products in variety of types and packaging to satisfy the need of customers around the world. We aim to gain your trust and build a long lasting business relationship by providing the best Saffron in the world.