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What are some really awesome things to do with saffron?

I was recently in India and brought back tons (well...not LITERAL tons) of really good saffron. I've made some lusekatter (saffron-marzipan buns), which were great, and I'm hunting for more interesting things to make - any ideas? Thanks in advance!

asked by Trudie Spangenberg almost 3 years ago
29 answers 2704 views
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added almost 3 years ago

If you an abundance of saffron, consider making some saffron water. Put about 1 good teaspoon full in a cup of hot water. Let steep until cool, then freeze into ice cubes; then remove from tray into a freezer bag. You can then use a saffron ice cube in any future dish or sauce, or even as a refreshing tea.
Other than that, Make a big paella and invite many people over.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 3 years ago

The saffron water is a really clever idea, I definitely wouldn't have thought of that - thanks so much. And I definitely foresee a good paella in my future!

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

What a great idea

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amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

Paella, classic risotto all Milanese - especially love Middle Eastern rice dishes made with saffron, almonds, dried fruit etc. So good. Also, I recently had an Indian ice cream (not Kulfi, though that works too) flavored with pistachios and saffron. It wasn't too sweet and was insanely delicious.

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added almost 3 years ago

Lucky you! Infuse cream with it and make a saffron brulee, or custard or lovely rice pudding or ice cream as amysarah suggests above.

84baef1b 1614 4c3d a895 e859c9d40bd1  chris in oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added almost 3 years ago

Bouillabaisse-type fish soups are wonderful. It's sometimes called soupe d'or, golden soup, because of the saffron.

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 3 years ago

First this question, are you sure it's really saffron and not saffon flower (saflower)? This stuff is very, very cheap in South Asia and it's mainly used for color. Real saffron is the stamin of the crocus flower. It's the most expensive spice in the world for a reason. You can distinguish the real thing easily because it is sold in microfilaments that have been hand harvested. I'm guessing what you bought isn't really saffron or you wouldn't have been able to buy "tons" of it on the cheap---even in India.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 3 years ago

Definitely a valid point, I thought it might have been a bit unnecessary to give the background in the question itself: The reason for the quantity was simply that I was involved with a small saffron farm in northern India for some months, and was fortunate enough to obtain some culinary benefits for my troubles. That said, you are quite correct in noting that buying "tons" (I do apologise for my careless hyperbole, in the case of saffron "milligrams" is a sufficient unit of measurement) of the real stuff, even at a bit of a discount, would leave one quite impoverished (but very fragrant).

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added almost 3 years ago

trudie, all the suggestions above are right on the money. The thing you might notice that they all/ or most- have in common is a primary element of cream (or mild liquid) or starch. I'm sure you alrdy know this, but i think the reason is that saffron is such an ephemeral flavor, yet very distinct. But to really taste it you need those other absortive elements. Saffron is said to be, along with cardamom, "the most expensive spice in the world." When you do serve a saffron dish to your friends, they might really enjoy seeing how it is sun dried. If you don't have a copy of the Cooking of India (part of a large Time Life series back in the '80's) you could request it from your public library system. There is an astounding (I have never forgotten this) center fold photo of an Indian woman in sari- kneeling down in the middle of a vast field of saffron- and turning each by hand. (Even if technology has moved on, and i'm not sure it has, it still is astounding that they once used this method!)

Spain and India might give you the most food uses for it. Indian desserts have always been a fascination to me and they use saffron for most forms of dessert, made primarily of milk, butter and sugar, often with dal as well. You'll find saffron examples in pudding, ice cream. halva,and hundreds more! Since saffron is such a precious substance, make sure to store in a dark container in a dark spot, and it will last a very long time!

Now, WHEN did you say you were coming to visit? :-}

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added almost 3 years ago

Wow - I really love your description of the picture, it sounds beautiful. I'll definitely see if I can get my hands on that book. Saffron is so unique as a spice - and the fact that it's so labour-intensive to produce makes it all the more miraculous.

Ice cream is a really good idea, and I've also been looking at different recipes for burfi. The almond and condensed milk base will probably make a wonderful base for the saffron, and a bit of cardamom will complement it nicely. Argh, too many options!

21cce3cd 8e22 4227 97f9 2962d7d83240  photo squirrel
added almost 3 years ago

absorptive

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 3 years ago

Definitely a valid point, I thought it might have been a bit unnecessary to give the background in the question itself: The reason for the quantity was simply that I was involved with a small saffron farm in northern India for some months, and was fortunate enough to obtain some culinary benefits for my troubles. That said, you are quite correct in noting that buying "tons" (I do apologise for my careless hyperbole, in the case of saffron "milligrams" is a sufficient unit of measurement) of the real stuff, even at a bit of a discount, would leave one quite impoverished (but very fragrant).

21cce3cd 8e22 4227 97f9 2962d7d83240  photo squirrel
added almost 3 years ago

wow trudie, that's fascinating- so do they still turn them by hand in a sunny field?

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added almost 3 years ago

Sorry for the random post in the middle of the thread, it was actually a response to Pierino's question further up.

Le Bec Fin - the farm where I worked was a small, family-owned place in a fairly rural setting and pretty much everything was done by hand, including the whole drying process. That said, I think the picture you mentioned will have some sentimental significance to me, as well as being very beautiful! The harvesting is actually turned into a bit of a festival (despite all the hard work to be done), and even the farmer's young kids pitched in to help. All in all, a really wonderful experience.

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luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

There's a book about Saffron by Pat Willard, who wrote Pie Every Day. It has many many lovely saffron recipes, incl fish soup and paella. I have always wanted to try Swedish saffron buns, English saffron cake... I like a savory French toast== the milk and egg are infused with saffron. Recipe is on the site if you want to try it.

84baef1b 1614 4c3d a895 e859c9d40bd1  chris in oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added almost 3 years ago

I have that book too and was thinking to mention it. You can tell from the title that it's much more than a cookbook: Secrets of Saffron: The Vagabond Life of the World's Most Seductive Spice.

8bbce907 3b5e 4c8c be5c c64e6c780d63  birthday 2012
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

So happy to be part of this community. Do you have her other books?

84baef1b 1614 4c3d a895 e859c9d40bd1  chris in oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added almost 3 years ago

I only have the saffron book, which I bought specifically because I was interested in saffron. I even grew it in my garden in Massachusetts, getting enough for one delicious paella a year.

Until you wrote, Meg, I had no idea that she was the author of Pie Every Day. Thanks for putting her on my radar.

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Diana B

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added almost 3 years ago

This ice cream: http://food52.com/recipes...

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

The whole concept of saffron is amazing. How did humanity come upon the idea of taking stamens from crocuses and using them in food? Yikes. Compared to dumpster diving...

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

Trudie - if I could, I would experiment with using saffron in some type of panna cotta or custard. Soufflé!

21cce3cd 8e22 4227 97f9 2962d7d83240  photo squirrel
added almost 3 years ago

trudie, well, ya got me curious, so i googled a bit. i've been increasingly interested in using savory flavors in desserts, so i found some recipes for saffron cookies. I actually am most interested in the 1st link because she uses 3 diff flours, incl. semolina and besan. But the 2nd link may have a better (more buttery) texture, which appeals to me.... The one thing strange about the 1st, Indian woman's,saffron treatment is that she doesn't pour a hot liquid over it like the others do and like i've always read. funny.
anyway, you are entering some fairly unchartered territory here, trudie (sounds like that's just the gal you are!) so I hope you'll report back about some of your saffron forays!

http://www.playfulcooking...
http://www.chow.com/recipes...
http://markbittman.com...

8bbce907 3b5e 4c8c be5c c64e6c780d63  birthday 2012
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 3 years ago

Luv when people report back and interested in the recipes you like. Tend to hoard saffron rather than Turing lots of different things because I am so conscious of its cost.

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added almost 3 years ago

I often make Persian chicken kebab at home. For that I dissolve saffron in a mixture of lemon juice and hot water overnight. Next day I marinate boneless chicken with the mixture and add salt and pepper and you can add little bit of chili powder for a kick and before grilling add little bit of olive oil .

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creamtea

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added almost 3 years ago

For a sweet and delicate dessert, I have a creamy Mahlabi (middle eastern custard) that was a community pick (along the lines of amysarah's and arcane54's sweet suggestions, above): http://food52.com/recipes.... There is also loveand lemon's wonderful chickpea and kale preparation for another savory idea, sometimes I use spinach and other times kale as written: http://food52.com/recipes...

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 3 years ago

Persian halva!!!!!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 3 years ago

U can add it to ur rice

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added almost 3 years ago

I once made a really lovely (as in unforgettable) honey-saffron panna cotta from a Martha Stewart recipe. I'll bet if you google that you'll be able to find it.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 3 years ago

Will try it.