Species: Crocus sativus
Saffron is the world’s most treasured spice. 75,000 saffron crocuses are needed to produce a single pound of saffron threads, explaining the precious nature of the spice. Its beautiful, red-gold strands are the styles and stigmas of the Saffron Crocus – the purple saffron flower. They are meticulously handpicked; their flavor is unique, subtle, delicate and slightly sweet.
Of all the varieties available, Kashmiri Saffron is the rarest and most precious of all. Its thicker stands, robust color, deeper flavor and aroma set it apart from other varieties, in part due to its limited production as well as its higher levels of safranal, crocin and picrocrocin - three of its main components that provide aroma (safranal), pigment (crocin) and taste (picrocrocin).
Kashmir is a land graced with an unparalleled landscape of natural beauty. To many, it’s “heaven on Earth”, a natural, mesmerizing paradise surrounded by the Himalayas and brimming with vast lakes and abundant flora and fauna. The climate is largely influenced by the mountains. Temperatures vary greatly, ranging from extreme cold in Ladakh to moderate in Kashmir and sub-tropical in Jammu. Numerous flowers, herbs and medicinal plants grow in Kashmir as do maple and apple trees, birch trees and the lovely Chinar tree.
Kashmiri cuisine is rich in flavorful, exotic spices. The Hindu population is vegetarian but the culture as a whole is not. In fact, the cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian. Savory dishes of chicken, fish and lamb simmered in delicate sauces flavored with fennel, cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and saffron often grace the table. A sampling of some Kashmiri favorites include:
- RISTA - made of mutton meatballs cooked in saffron-flavored red curry
- ROGAN JOSH - an aromatic lamb dish flavored with spices, onions and yogurt
- MODUR PULAO - sweetened Kashmiri rice made with milk, ghee, cinnamon and saffron
- KASHMIRI PULAO - savory rice made with spices and saffron, tossed or garnished with nuts and/or dried fruits, onions and ghee
- KAHWA - a delightful Kashmiri Green Saffron Tea with made with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, saffron and almonds