Saffron is a slow-to-release spice. To cut costs, saffron bulbs are usually sold in three size groups:
The smallest, 3cm diameter, is used to make small quantities of saffron paste, an herbal condiment of Sri Lanka that is traditionally used in recipes such as rice and naan.
The largest bulbs (about 30cm) are used in saffron powder and are often called ‘green saffron’.
The rest, 5cm and 7.5cm diameters, are used for saffron bulbs that are sold in various grades and colors and can be used to produce other traditional Indian spices that are commonly sold throughout the world.
How can I know whether I have saffron?
Saffron is often grown in small amounts in the southern part of India, where it is known as ‘dung-flowered’, but more widely accepted as a spice. Seeds are collected regularly throughout the year by farmers on the slopes of the Himalayas. Some seedlings are sown in the early spring with the intention of growing the saffron for the last five months of the growing season. After the seedlings emerge from the ground in the fall and winter, they are taken to a cool, dry place in the mountains and placed under glass at night. The seeds germinate and sprout about a month later. When the seeds arrive at the market, they don’t seem to have any distinctive smell, so when people ask whether the saffron is green or red, people usually assume that it is green – which is how it is sold in India.
Saffron is also widely grown in the western part of India, though many people don’t know that is where it originated – the western side of the Indus is also known as ‘green saffron’ or ‘black saffron’.
In India, a very popular style of cooking in many of the villages in southern regions is to use ‘saffron dal’. As a result, saffron is very widely used in the Indian home cooking menu. This style of cooking is referred to as `saffron-dal cookery’ and is a very popular cooking method for home use. Indian dal varies greatly in the quantities of vegetables and grains that can be made from it so you should always check the recipe to determine if its quantity.
How can I store saffron that has finished cooking?
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