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[ An oral experience of Saffron’s response to a hungry mouth ]Layers of golden rice, fried chicken and barbaries sauteed with sugar and pistachio in my mouth makes me want to travel back to Iran.Despite the tastyness, I have nothing but Traditional persian food to fulfill my desperate needs, at least physically.
What I love about Persian cuisine is the subtly earthly & grassy flavor and aroma, yet sweet, similar to floral & honey. Either in restaurants, cafes or even at home of locals, would you believe that they manage to use the most expensive spice in the world by weight to show off their talents and get people’s heart to fall in love with them? If that were the case it should be called ”Open face rice with naughty barberries on top” or something equally erotic.
There’s nothing wrong with a crisp Persian rice on the bottom of the pot laced with saffron and often scented with orange zest (nothing at all!!), but more often than,an afterthought ( warm,flavourful enough, basically a letdown, especially after you’ve dispatched of your daily disappointments)
So here’s my version, which prioritized pulling as much flavor as possible out of title character: Saffron . Maybe the reason that Persian Saffron remains demanding is that making a good version yourself is a process that can’t be rushed. Properly steamed saffron takes easily a solid 10 to 15 minutes, a kind of no way around it. Finding the pure and high quality saffron, if you are going that route, takes time too.
Iranian saffron is really potent. Our saffron comes in various grades. The best are Negin and then Sargol respectively (from the tip of the stigmas). These are the strongest. What remains after separating the tip of the stigmas (the barley yellow end side of the threads) is the cheapest. It doesn’t have much color but still has some aroma.
The plant is related to spring and autumn-flowering garden crocus and blooms in autumn. In the picture below you can see the three dark orange stigmas. These stigmas are our “edible gold”.
Saffron is the most expensive spice on this planet and more expensive than gold by weight
So very true, Persian cooks manage to use it in so many recipes, both sweet and savory.Are we really that rich to put something more expensive than gold in our food almost everyday?
The answer is No. they just know how to use a tiny amount of saffron for maximum impact. I often prefer a rich Saffron on seamed rice with a few dried and fried barberries added to the mix to brighten my day.
Persian ice cream is often flavored with saffron.The list of the dishes Persians make with saffron is endless. Take the beloved saffron rice pudding (Sholeh Zard) for instance, or the savoury rice cake (Tahchin). The deep yellow color, the sweet hay-like aroma and the flavour of saffron gives these dishes their unique character. Without saffron they would never be what they are. But in many other dishes like most of the stews (curry-like dishes) the use of saffron is optional, just to add more flavour, aroma.
Whichever you choose, if you are up to the main dish,you can add some of the mix to the stew, it will be full of flavor,really good too. Good enough that you can even get away with skipping Persian rice and eat it with bread, even if that would be against Iranian hospitality.
The stigmas have to be picked by hand. This is a very labour-intensive job so it’s no wonder saffron is so expensive. Moreover, the plant likes warm and sunny climates so it doesn’t grow well in many places. But a gram of good saffron will see you through quite a few dishes. Yes, one gram only! It’s probably cheaper than many commercially packed spice mixes given its potency.
There are different methods for preparing saffron. Persian cooks always grind saffron threads to a fine powder. This way even a small pinch will release enough colour and aroma to make an everyday dish look very indulgent.
¼ teaspoon of crushed saffron One tablespoon of water
Instructions : Brewing in boiling water
Boil the water. Use the pot to boil the water Let the water cool for a few seconds Add water. Add one tablespoon of cooled water to ¼ teaspoon of saffron Cover the glass. Put it in a warm place.
Instructions : Brewing with ice
Add an ice cube. Crashed ice is the best add it to crushed saffron Leave the mix for 10 minutes. Wait till the ice has completely melted. The gradual melting of the ice will slowly release its bright orange colour and pungent aroma of saffron very nicely.
What to do with brewed saffron:
Saffron is not just a spice. It has been proved to elevate mood since the ancient times, as medicine, or to address the love between two whether that’s your beloved and quirky roommate, or your romantic partner. At a certain point in most close relationships, there’s even an expectation that you’ll break bread together. Beware if you fall short of that expectation.
Steamed Rice : Mix some of the steamed rice with brewed saffron and garnish the top with. It can be the fuel, a celebration, or it could be that little emotional boost you need, and have it as main dish with some stew .Check this link to find out about other dishes served next to the Persian Rice.
2. Chicken : have you ever tasted a crispy baked chicken tenders aside from rice? It can be cooked in a tomato sauce such as the chicken in Zereshk Polo Morgh. This recipe is a staple in Persian cooking as it can be served with several types of mixed rice dishes such as dill rice and Persian white rice. In the olden days, home cooks would cook chicken in boiling water first and then mix the chicken with the sauce, but as I tried many different approaches to making Persian chicken I came to the conclusion that the chicken is juicier and way tastier if it’s seared first until the skin is golden. And then one tablespoon of Saffron to give a color shock to the chicken and help it turn to that gorgeous golden color
Herbal tea: Saffron Tea is a mood-lifting, refreshing herbal beverage full of antidepressants. All you need is hot water, saffron threads, sugar, and a few spices to make a cup of saffron tea. Cinnamon or cardamom Here’s how to make tea with saffron!
If you want to cook more of Persian food and make others fall in love with you try the online cooking class arranged with Tappersia.