Saffron wafts off a strong, exotic aroma and it has a bitter taste. It is extensively used to flavor dishes in many Mediterranean and Oriental countries. It is also one of the most expensive spices. The saffron plant belongs to the family Iridaceae and the saffron is the harvested from the Crocus sativus species of the family. The saffron is basically the dried stigma of the flower. To get a pound of saffron requires almost 75,000 flowers, which makes it extremely rare. Only a handful of countries grow saffron and the best among the lot is from the Kashmir valley. Given below in the article are various information regarding the saffron plant.
Saffron Uses & Benefits
- Saffron contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods.
- Saffron is widely used in Iranian (Persian), Arab, Central Asian, European, Indian, Turkish, and Cornish cuisines.
- Confectionaries and liquors also often include saffron.
- Common saffron substitutes include safflower (Carthamus tinctorius, which is often sold as "Portuguese saffron" or "açafrão") and turmeric (Curcuma longa).
- Saffron is very popular as a spice in all international cuisines.
- It is an indispensable ingredient in most Mughlai dishes and erstwhile Mughlai chefs used this herb liberally in the rich concoctions they prepared for the royal table. It is used in sweets as well as in curries.
- In India, to serve dishes decorated with saffron is regarded as a mark of honor to the guest.
- It is used in several exotic dishes, particularly in Spanish rice specialties and French fish preparations.
- It is also used for coloring butter, cheese, pudding, and pastry.
- People in Europe and India use it to season various foods.
- Saffron finds many uses in Ayurveda, Unani, Chinese and Tibetan medicine. It is popularly known as a stimulant, warm and dry in action, helping in urinary, digestive, and uterine troubles.
- In Ayurveda, saffron is used to cure chronic diseases such as asthma and arthritis. It is also useful in treating cold and cough. Ayurvedic medicines containing saffron are used to treat acne and several skin diseases. A paste of the spice can be used as a dressing for bruises and superficial sores.
- Ancient texts on Ayurveda have information about the herb’s use as an aphrodisiac. It is a stimulant and promotes libido. It is largely used as an indigenous medicine across India. Saffron enjoys great reputation as a drug, which strengthens the functioning of the stomach and promotes its action. It also counteracts spasmodic disorders and sustains involuntary muscle contraction.
- It is beneficial in the treatment of several digestive disorders. Its use has been found especially valuable in flatulent colic. It is also used in the fevers, melancholia, and enlargement of the liver and spleen. It is used in medicines that reduce inflammation. A combination of saffron and ghee is used to treat diabetes. Saffron also merits usage as a strengthening agent for the heart and as a cooling agent for the brain. It has been found beneficial in the treatment of urinary problems. It acts as a diuretic if soaked overnight in water and administered with honey.
- The spice is useful in promoting and regulating menstrual periods. It soothes lumbar pains, which accompany menstruation. Saffron is also beneficial in the treatment of other ailments concerning women such as leucorrhoea and hysteria. Pessaries of saffron are used in painful conditions of the uterus. Saffron oil is used as an external application in uterine sores. In modern pharmacopoeias, saffron is employed only to color other medicines or as a cordial adjunct.
Traditionally saffron is believed to promote fairness of the complexion. It is widely used in cosmetics, especially in fairness creams.