Saffron has long been used in traditional healing and research suggests it could become part of mainstream medicine’s weaponry. The major producers of antiquity—Iran, Spain, India, and Greece—continue to dominate the world trade.
Saturday 3 August 2013, Joanna Blythman and Rosie Sykes for The Guardian.com–No spice is more special than saffron. Its scent is haunting, its unmistakable flavour earthy yet aristocratic and subtle. It straddles sweet and savoury effortlessly, and it bestows a striking golden hue on every dish it graces. A few strands of saffron will transform a long list of dishes, adding an x-factor to everything from risottos and milk puddings to rich curries and fish stews.
Avoid the powdered sort: it’s liable to fraud and adulteration and generally disappoints. Get the most from your saffron stigmas (strands) by warming them very gently for a few seconds, pounding them lightly in a mortar with a bit of salt and then infusing them in liquid for a minute or two to help release their glorious colour and aroma.