Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Saffron (Kesar, Kumkuma Puvvu)

Saffron, Kesar, Kumkuma Puvvu (Copyrighted Image by Indira Singari)

The majestic Saffron is one spice that rightfully deserves our respect. The number of hours spent plucking the saffron flowers and then the stigmas is just mind blowing. Something like 50,000 flowers, a football field-sized patch, must be grown to produce just one pound of saffron.

Saffron is the stigma of crocus flower, so the botanical name Crocus sativus. Harvest season lasts for 2 weeks and the flowers are picked each morning. The 3 stigmas in each blossom are hand-picked. After plucking, the stigmas are light roasted which dries the stigmas and fixes the flavor in the threads. This delicate stage of roasting is done only by the most expert of farmers. Even as little as a minute too long on the fire and the whole batch would be ruined.

The saffron crocus is sterile and the crop is propagated by corm multiplication. Each corm lasts only for one season and then is replaced by up to 10 cormlets. The size of the corm has a very significant effect on the production of daughter corms, and on the production of flowers and the yield of saffron. Saffron flower is amazingly beautiful and fragrant. It has pale lilac petals with dark colored veins. Saffron crop can tolerate frosts and an occasional snow. It grows in a wide range of soils but thrives in clay-calcareous soil.

Saffron is used in Ayurveda as a good heart tonic for all three doshas, and is also an important ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines. For example, “Shatavari Plus” has saffron as one of its main ingredients. Saffron has circulatory stimulant properties, is warming and very rejuvenating. Saffron milk is an excellent remedy for Anemia. It is also known to tonify the female reproductive system. The cosmetics industry uses saffron in lotions and creams for its ability to nourish and lighten the skin.

And, of course, we all are familiar with the bright golden yellow Saffron robes of Buddhist monks. The color of their robes speaks volumes of their renunciation. When a young green leaf turns yellow or orange, it falls off from the tree. The Buddhist monks wear yellow saffron robes to constantly remind them to let go and not cling to the earthly pleasures.

Since Saffron and Kashmir are inseparable and I am such a big tea fan, we have to have a cup of Kahva (Kashmiri chai with saffron). This tea is amazingly aromatic and an experience in itself. Here is a very good post on Kahva. Note that this Kahva is different from Kava, a herbal drink from south Pacific.

A classic and simple dessert with Saffron is Shrikhand.

Classic Shrikhand with Saffron:

1-cup whole milk yogurt
1-cup sugar
Saffron - 1 teaspoon, or to your liking
Charoli (chironji) - 1 tablespoon, or to taste
Crushed cardamom seeds - ¼ teaspoon

Tie yogurt in a clean muslin cloth. Keep in a sieve and place a heavy pan over it. Keep overnight to drain all water. Once all water is drained from the yogurt, add sugar and mix really well. Sugar must be dissolved completely. Add crushed cardamom, saffron. Serve with charoli on top.

Some of you might remember that I mentioned once about growing mustard seeds and enjoying the beauty of Punjab in my own backyard. Now, how about a little Kashmir in your back yard. We can grow our own Saffron!. Looks like some avid gardeners are even growing Saffron in containers. There are a lot of online vendors and nurseries where you can buy the saffron corms. Growing Saffron is time consuming and needs a lot of patience. But I think I am up for this project too.

Now let’s see… I have mustard from Punjab, Saffron from Kashmir… Hmm … what’s next?

by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice

For a fabulous array of saffron recipes: Think Saffron


Play, Learn and Earn Rice to Help
What was the score, and how many grams?:)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Herbs and Spices, Anjali Damerla, Saffron (Kesar, Kumkum Puvvu) (Thursday November 15, 2007 at 4:07 pm- permalink)

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17 comments for Saffron (Kesar, Kumkuma Puvvu) »

  1. Hi Indira,
    Post is very informative.
    Free rice play and help is very interesting.
    Thank you.

    Comment by vineela — November 15, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  2. It’s a great timepass and fun game to play, isn’t it? Thanks Vineela.

    Comment by Indira — November 15, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

  3. Hi indira,
    The game is a time pass and I made 1420 points.Im going to play again and donate as much rice as I can.


    Comment by madhuri — November 15, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

  4. Free rice is such a cool idea. Love it! Thanks for sharing this idea with all the food lovers, Indira.

    Comment by wonderfuldestiny — November 15, 2007 @ 8:10 pm

  5. This is a lovely write up on Saffron, thank you Anjali. Always learning here! And I too am enamoured of that rice site! :)

    Comment by Linda — November 15, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

  6. Thanks for the nice writeup on the lovely Saffron. Apart from being a good ingredient in indian food it has excellent medicinal properties. A Decoction is made out of saffron and Somb which when given to a pregnant lady after her proper labour pains have started, it quickens the delivery tremendously. For both my kids I have expereinced this and my labour hours are less than 2. I really adore this spice like anything.

    Comment by Nirmala — November 15, 2007 @ 11:54 pm

  7. Lovely article on saffron…and thanks for the link on ric grains..I came to 2000 points..tired to go further..too much taxing for the brain after that I felt…:D..thanks Indira for taking pains to get us participate in such useful things..

    Comment by Srivalli — November 16, 2007 @ 1:11 am

  8. Nice post on saffron.

    Comment by sagari — November 16, 2007 @ 11:53 am

  9. Hello Anjali/Indira

    Thanks for yet another of the spice-stories. I have never seen a saffron flower before..Thats something which I believe till now I have missed so far!!! I will ahve to tuck all this info!

    Happy Thanks Giving!

    Comment by Aparna — November 16, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  10. Always enlightening to visit your blog.

    Comment by Cynthia — November 16, 2007 @ 5:02 pm

  11. Ma’m, U have an awesome knowledge abt cooking.Hats off to you.I have been a silent reader of your blog since long.Please accept my best regards.have a great weekend!


    Comment by mekhala — November 17, 2007 @ 4:58 am

  12. Aparna,
    I have not seen a saffron flower other than in pics. But people who have seen it tell me that it is one of the most beautiful one they have ever seen. And that’s why the opportunity to grow my own saffron here in US is very tempting :)

    Comment by Anjali Damerla — November 17, 2007 @ 11:23 am

  13. Nirmala,
    My paternal grandmother was an expert midwife and she has assisted the birth of ALL her grandkids.I remember she once told me that saffron milk was one of her secrets to quicken the delivery. Of course, like you mentioned, saffron is only used when proper labour pains have started and never before that.

    Comment by Anjali Damerla — November 17, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  14. Fantastic and well done information about Saffron. Do you have any recipes or ideas to work with saffron in bread or baking, cakes and so on? may I need one for my wife.
    She has a blog:
    but sorry, the most of her sites are in German, not in English.

    Comment by Michael Waller — November 17, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  15. this game is so time pass & i got 1250 points.
    i play one more time

    Comment by kumar — November 18, 2007 @ 6:52 am

  16. Lovely post on Saffron. Good luck with growing it. I look forward to some photos of it growing?

    Comment by VegeYum @ A Life (Time) of Cooking — November 20, 2007 @ 4:19 am

  17. Michael,
    I have a book on muffin & quick breads, by Linda Fraser. It has a recipe for Saffron Focaccia. And I found a similar one at this link too.

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Anjali Damerla — November 23, 2007 @ 10:30 am

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