Saffron is a very popular spice in Persian cuisine. While salt, pepper and turmeric are the main spices used in Iranian cooking, a lot of Persian dishes owe their special taste and aroma to saffron. Saffron has a rich color and taste and makes almost everything made with it a mesmerizing treat.
What is saffron good for?
The crimson stigmas of saffron contain many chemical compounds that have different health benefits. Saffron is most known for its antidepressant effects that can treat mild to moderate depressions. It is also a rather good antioxidant agent which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Managing abdominal pains and digestive disorders are some other common usages for saffron. Therefore having saffron incorporated in daily eating habits can be a very healthy choice.
How much saffron should be used?
Saffron is generally safe unless an excess amount is consumed. The safe amount of saffron to use per day is up to 1.5 milligrams. This consists of about 2 teaspoons which is way more than the amount used in most recipes. So it is safe to have saffron in food.
It is suggested for pregnant women to start having saffron in food from the second trimester to prevent any possible dangers.
How to use saffron?
The dried stigmas should be grounded well. The ground form can be used dry, however for a greater taste and color it is better to bloom the grounded saffron. There are two ways to make bloom saffron.
First is to pour some boiling water on the ground saffron and let it brew for about 10 minutes. The other way is to pour the ground saffron in a bowl and put some ice cubes on it. The bloom saffron is ready when the ice is melted completely. This is a better way as it brings out the most flavor and color out of saffron.
Top Persian dishes with saffron
Saffron as a Persian spice
Iranians use saffron in most of their meals as a seasoning. Saffron can be in Kabab Koobideh, different kinds of Persian stews and many Persian rice dishes.
Tahchin: Persian saffron rice cake
Tahchin is a very popular main course in Iran. It is made with saffron flavored rice with layers of shredded chicken. Persian saffron rice is usually made with chicken but beef or lamb meet can also be used. Saffron is the main spice in Tahchin. It gives the meal its special color and taste.
Iranians have different types of Halva, varying in ingredients. Saffron plays a significant role in almost all types of halva. Due to saffron antidepressant and sedative effects, its usage in Halva is a great choice because halva is usually served in mourning ceremonies.
Shole Zard: Persian saffron rice pudding
Shole Zard is a delicious sweet Persian rice pudding. It is served as dessert or the main course, usually in religious ceremonies. Saffron is the ingredient which gives Shole Zard its taste.
Saffron sherbet is made with saffron and herbal extracts like rosewater. This cold served sherbet has a special taste aside from its benefits. It can be a great choice to help you sleep well. It can also refresh you as a midday beverage.
Saffron in pastry
Saffron is used in many Persian pastries. Zoolbia Bamie (Persian doughnuts with saffron and rosewater) is a pastry which is covered with a thick saffron syrup. Persian chickpea cookies, Baklava and Masghati are some other pastries that consist of saffron.
Saffron chicken kabab
Jooje-Kebab (Persian chicken kabab) is a simple yet very delicious food. To prepare, chicken needs to be marinated in a dressing overnight. There are lots of combinations to marinate the chicken. One of the very popular ones is a saffron mixture. This gives the chicken a unique taste and turns it into a stunning golden kabab when barbequed.
Iranians love Tahdig! Tahdig is the bottom layer of the rice made in a pot which gets crunchy during the cooking. Weather it is a simple rice Tahdig or slices of potato, saffron can change the taste completely. Just a touch of ground or bloom saffron is enough to turn Tahdig into a mouth-watering treat.
Saffron for garnish
A traditional way of serving Persian Chelo rice is to pile it in a tray in the form of a small hill and add some saffron rice on top. Rice is simply combined with a little bloomed saffron to make it yellow. Roasted barberries and slices of nuts are used along with saffron rice to garnish Persian Chelo.