I wanted to name this post as The Pursuit of Saffron Happyness initially but sis said it’s too lame. Is it? ;p I thought the post title describe my feeling towards saffron perfectly. Anyway let me share my first ever saffron journey with you.
I’ve heard a lot about saffron, mostly from this famous phrase: it’s the world’s most expensive spice! Saffron is also known as the gold of spices because it takes EXTREMELY hard work to harvest saffron. And because of this a lot of fake saffrons are in the market. That’s the main reason why I’ve been ignoring this spice and also because I’ve no idea where to get the real thing.
Quite a while ago, I saw the use of saffron in biryani rice from Lonely Planet (if I remembered correctly). And just recently I saw an Indian recipe using saffron as well. That sparked me an idea. You see, my neighbors are majority Indians. I thought of asking them where to buy saffron. However my sis took the courtesy by asking our Indian friend. And that’s where my first encounter with saffron begins.
She pointed us to 2 shops. One in Brickfield, KL called New Malliga and another one called Yashree in Klang. She even wrote us the name of saffron in Tamil and the romanized version. Here it is: குங்குமப்பூ (kunggumapu). I went to Yashree because it’s nearest to where I live. I showed the shopkeeper the Tamil name of saffron from a piece of paper and immediately he showed me the 3 types he has.
First he gave me a small plastic box and told me the price is RM6+. I asked him back whether this is fake because saffron can’t be this cheap. He didn’t answer but pass me a big plastic packaging about the size of a regular junk food packet. Immediately I said I don’t want it. There’s no such thing as selling saffron in such large quantity from an Indian old-fashioned grocery store coz if it’s real saffron, it will be damn expensive… few hundred dollars to thousands perhaps for that kind of weight. Finally he gave me another small plastic box and told me the price is RM23.90. I thought the price was okay but I didn’t know whether it’s the real thing or fake. To find out the answer, I bought one. I’ve nothing to lose. If it’s fake, then I know where NOT to buy saffron in the future. And if it’s the real thing, then that’s good news!
Written on the box above:
100% Pure & Best Quality Saffron
No dilution with stamens.
India is the ancient harvesting ground of purest saffron in the world. In the beautiful valley of Kashmir, fields of crocus sativus have heralded the dawn for close to 2000 years. The quality of Kashmiri Saffron is incomparable. Rich in taste, color and aroma. It takes 75 000 blossoms to make a single pound. Kashmiri Saffron is acknowledged to be the finest in the world. Any person who has used Kashmiri Saffron will bear testament to the fact that Saffron of Kashmir origin is the best in the world. It is also used as an herb in Ayurveda Medicines which heal a variety of diseases ranging from Arthritis to impotence and infertility. A regular intake of Kashmiri Saffron everyday for a period of time enable the body to build resistance against a lot of common diseases. Believe your own personal experience, a one time use will say more than any number of words.
The writings sounded very nice ain’t it?
This brand is imported by Yashree Store themselves, so in a way it could be the real thing. Net weight: 1gm. Yup 1gm for RM23.90! Still I think it’s affordable because you don’t use a lot in cooking. Only a few strands are enough.
I did a couple of test to determined whether I’ve purchased the real thing.
Test no. 1:
Real saffron has this honey+hay like aroma.
Fake saffron is either unscented or scented with sandalwood.
Result: Even when I have not open the box, I can smell the aroma about an arm away. And it smells honey+woody. Good sign no. 1. 🙂
Test no. 2:
Real saffron should have long and fine threads with vivid red color. The threads should have trumpet-shaped top end.
Result: Mine has long and fine threads and dark red in color. And in one end its shape is trumpet-like. 🙂
Test no. 3
The bottom end threads should have thin yellow tendril.
Result: Mine has yellow tendril but not all. *doubt
I’m getting some good signs and yet I’m still not totally convinced. So I carry out the final and most important test.
Test no. 4
Drop a couple of saffron threads in a cup of warm water. Leave it for 10-30 minutes.
For real saffron, the color will seep into water gradually while for fake saffron, the color will come out very quickly.
Result: As you can see above the yellow color seep out very slowly. The photo were taken a few seconds after I dropped the threads into the water. It’s such a pretty sight.
Test no. 5
After a substantial amount of time, real saffron will give you yellow golden color water with red color threads while fake saffron will turn the water into red and the threads will loose its color.
Result: Saffron turned into bright yellow and the threads color remain red. YAY!
So it’s confirmed this saffron I bought from Yashree is THE REAL THING!
You don’t know how happy I was… well my heart was basically dancing with pure joy. Ohh Saffron Happyness!!!
How to store saffron?
Saffron is sensitive to light, so keep it away from light. I’ll keep the saffron in its original plastic and paper boxes in an air-tight container. Saffron will loose its aroma as time passes, so it’s normally use within 2 years.
Here’s Yashree shop info:
Yashree Store Sdn. Bhd.
44, Jalan Tengku Kelana,
41000, Klang, Selangor,
p/s: I still can’t believe I scored a box of real saffron!!! 😀