Saffron: Kashmir’s Golden Spice
Poets have romanticized it, monks have worn clothes dyed with its color, emperors have dreamt of it and saints have worshiped it. Stories around the golden spice saffron abound. According to one, Mughal Emperor Akbar loved the smell of saffron so much, that the large windows in the bathhouses of his palaces, especially in Rajasthan, would overlook saffron fields so the scent of the golden spice could waft through the windows and perfume the air.
Part of our cuisine and especially used as a garnish during celebrations in India – Saffron has an interesting story and widespread use. Interestingly it is known by various names in different cultures and languages, but the roots are the same. It is Safran in French and German, Safrani or Zafora in Greek, Kesar or Zafran in Hindi, Azafrán in Spanish, Za’afaran or Zaafaran in Farsi and Zafran or Kisar in Urdu. The word saffron has its origin in the Arabic word Az-za’fran. It means something that takes on the color yellow.