Kashmiri Saffron, often labeled as the "golden spice,"(and for good reasons) has been revered in Indian traditional medicine and Ayurveda for centuries for its intense aroma, unique flavor, and beautiful crimson threads. Kashmiri saffron or Kashmiri Kesar as most of us know it, is a highly coveted variety of saffron cultivated in the pristine valleys of Kashmir. It is not only for its flavor that it is valued, Kashmir saffron has a variety of nutritional elements that make it the most expensive spice in the world! Kashmiri saffron is employed and loved in various culinary traditions be it in India or the rest of the world. In Indian culture, it is a key ingredient in foods such as biryanis, kheer, halwas, and various beverages. The saffron threads add to the food a pleasing-to-the-eye red color, enhance flavor, and most importantly elevate the aroma, boosting the overall culinary experience. It takes around 75,000 flowers to produce just 500g of saffron, making it a true labor of love.
Kashmiri saffron is a spice enriched with various vitamins and hence provides numerous health benefits. While only used in small quantities, Kashmir Saffron still has the potential to provide various trace elements that your body may be lacking. Kashmiri saffron contains Vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that primarily supports the immune system; enhances collagen synthesis making the skin more supple while reducing tanning and discoloration; and improves iron absorption in the body thereby preventing anemia. Kashmiri saffron also contains the essential Vitamin B6 that upgrades various bodily functions, boosts metabolism, helps with brain development and cognition while improving the production of red blood cells in the body. Kashmiri saffron is great for the eyes and macular degeneration due its Vitamin A content which is also crucial for promoting cell growth. Vitamin E, a vitamin found in most skincare products and supplements, provides the body with a group of fat-soluble antioxidants. Vitamin E reduces oxidative stress down to the cellular level, and has myriad anti-inflammatory properties.
Kashmiri Saffron Characters:
Kashmiri saffron is primarily differentiated by its long, deep crimson threads which because of their slight orange hue are extremely beautiful. These threads, or stigmas, are carefully handpicked and separated from the kashmiri saffron flowers. The threads are extremely delicate and thin and the moistness indicates their freshness but also makes the cultivation process a task which requires expert knowledge of the flower and its location. At My Pahadi Dukan, we ensure that our Kashmiri saffron is harvested and cultivated by locals who engage in chemical free farming practices.
Kashmiri saffron has a sweet, floral taste with undercurrent bitterness and earthiness which makes it a perfectly balanced spice for all dishes. This intensely aromatic spice, with hints of honey and hay makes Kashmiri Saffron a favorite of all chefs including our mothers and grandmothers. The arrival of autumn in Kashmir brings with it the bloom of vibrant purple flowers with saffron as a stigma. These flowers bloom for a very brief period of about two to three weeks making cultivation an extremely time bound process. Each day, farmers carefully handpick the spice before the sun rises to ensure freshness and the vibrant color and intense flavor of Kashmiri saffron
Additionally, the climate of Kashmir region is absolutely a boon for the growth of the best quality of saffron available in the world; and the high altitude of the Kashmir Valley further elevates the quality of saffron.
Uses of Kashmiri Saffron:
Kashmiri saffron is an arsenal in the toolkit of Ayurvedic medicine including various traditional beauty rituals. In Ayurveda, saffron is used to boost digestion, elevate mood, improve the quality and timing of sleep, and eases pain before and during menstruation. The myriad therapeutic benefits of kashmiri saffron range from calming effects due to the presence of compounds like safranal and crocin, which help the brain with production of adequate serotonin which aids the brain and the body by supporting enhancement of mood and reducing life altering symptoms of depression.
Saffron is also highly valued in the beauty industry. It is a revered ingredient in masks, serums, and creams due to its antioxidant properties. It helps brighten the complexion, reduce blemishes, and promotes a healthy glow. It also hydrates the skin, treats acne and has a myriad anti aging benefits.
Health Benefits of Kashmiri Saffron:
Kashmiri saffron provides a range of health benefits due to its antioxidant content, anti inflammatory properties, and presence of various nutrients that enhance the depleting levels of the same in the body while providing and overall glow and boost to the health of our skin, hair and nails. Following are some benefits of including Kashmiri saffron in your culinary and skin care practices:
- Antioxidant Powerhouse:
Kashmiri saffron is replete with potent antioxidants, including crocin, crocetin, and safranal. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress of the body by attacking and neutralizing free radical stress and damage, thereby reducing inflammation and reversing cellular damage. Crocin additionally exhibits neuroprotective qualities, which helps protect brain cells from oxidative damage and age related degeneration. Kashmiri Saffron is known for its potential in reducing the risk of diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's..
- Mental Well-Being:
Consuming Kashmiri saffron is touted for its mood enhancing and promotion of mental well-being properties. It is believed to enhance serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter also called the happy hormone, that plays an essential role in regulating mood. Saffron reduces the feeling of depression and anxiety, thereby promoting cognitive relaxation, and inducing a sense of well being. Safranal, an anti oxidant compound present in Kashmiri Saffron has is the main reason for its mood-regulating effects. Kashmir Saffron also reduces anxiety and depression by regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin.
- Improved Cognitive Function:
The active compounds in Kashmiri saffron have shown promise in enhancing cognitive function. Kashmiri Saffron aids in improving memory and cognitive function due to the presence of a compound called crocin, which helps enhance memory retention and recall making it extremely beneficial for growing adults and children. Antioxidant compounds in Kashmiri Saffron support the formation and overall retention of favorable and required memories, promoting enhanced cognitive performance. They help improve concentration, and boost overall brain health.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties:
Kashmiri Saffron boasts of anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce overall inflammation in the body and aids weight loss. Chronic inflammation in the human body is a common phenomenon due to rising levels of stress, pollution, poor dietary choices and reduced nutritional content in soils which is thereby linked to various health conditions, including cardiovascular degeneration, diabetes, and arthritis.
Arthritis is a disease where our joints become inflamed. The anti-inflammatory properties of saffron alleviate arthritis symptoms and reduce joint inflammation, swelling, and pain.
- Heart Health:
Kashmiri saffron has various benefits for our cardiovascular health. It helps in lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and preventing the oxidation of bad cholesterol in the body. These effects contribute to a healthier heart and a reduced risk of heart disease. Kashmiri Saffron's anti-inflammatory properties also target inflammation of the blood vessels thereby reducing the risk of plaque formation in the arteries and reducing the risk of brain aneurysms and heart attacks.
- Anticancer Properties:
Compounds in Kashmiri saffron like crocin and crocetin, are known to possess anticancer properties. They have been shown to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Kashmiri Saffron's bioactive compounds induce apoptosis in cancerous cells. This means that saffron promotes natural removal, potentially retarding tumor growth.
Moreover, Kashmiri Saffron's bioactive compounds have chemopreventive effects on the body, and hence they can prevent the formation of an environment in the body which is suitable for the growth of cancers.
- Eye and Vision Health:
Kashmiri saffron contains carotenoids, including crocin, which have positive effects on our overall eye health. These compounds not only improve vision but also help protect the retina and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Saffron also enhances visual sensitivity and improves color perception.
- Digestive Aid:
Saffron has been traditionally used to enhance digestion. It promotes the secretion of digestive enzymes, maintains optimal gut function, and helps relieve indigestion and gastrointestinal discomfort. Additionally, saffron possesses carminative properties which can help get rid of bloating and flatulence.
- Menstrual Relief:
In traditional Indian medicine, saffron has been used to regulate menstrual cycles, reduce cramps, help with PMS and bloating. It also helps soothe and reduce PMS symptoms such as mood swings, irritability and soreness. Consumption of Kashmiri Saffron tea or milk infused with Kashmiri saffron can be extremely relieving during menstruation.
- Aphrodisiac Properties:
Saffron is a powerful aphrodisiac, known for its properties to enhance libido and sexual performance. It helps by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and stimulating desire. Saffron is often used as a natural remedy for targeting infertility and addressing sexual health issues.
Kashmiri saffron aids in weight management. It helps by suppressing appetite and curbing cravings, and thereby reducing the urge to overeat by regulating hunger signals. Additionally, Kashmiri saffron boosts metabolism and promotes fat reduction.
- Diabetes Management:
Saffron has shown potential in managing diabetes, as Kashmiri Saffron helps regulate blood sugar levels by enhancing insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance and symptoms of the same in the body. Saffron also protects against issues related to diabetes by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Liver Function:
The antioxidant characters of saffron endow the liver with various essential protective effects. It detoxifies the liver, promotes liver cell regeneration, and prevents damage by helping the liver release toxins and oxidative stress.
- Anti-Aging Effects:
The antioxidant compounds in Kashmiri saffron are a wonder weapon against free radical damage thereby reducing signs of aging in the body. They effectively prevent collagen breakdown, and promote skin glow, health and elasticity. Regular consumption or application of saffron to the affected areas can help reduce wrinkles and age spots thereby promoting a youthful complexion.
- Respiratory Health:
Saffron has been used in traditional medicine to help with respiratory disorders such as asthma. It melts excess phlegm, helps soothe the respiratory tract, and reduces inflammation in the airways.
Kashmiri Saffron Nutritional Information:
Kashmiri saffron is an extremely nutrient-dense spice, even though it is typically consumed in small amounts, it still is capable of providing many health benefits as discussed. Here is an overview of its nutritional make up per 1 gram (approximately 20 threads):
- Calories: 3
- Carbohydrates: 0.68 g
- Protein: 0.14 g
- Fat: 0.06 g
- Fiber: 0.02 g
- Vitamin C: 1% of the RDI
- Iron: 2% of the RDI
Kashmiri saffron, with its rich history, enticing fragrance, and unique flavor, is an emblem of Kashmir's and India’s rich cultural heritage. This golden spice adds a touch of luxury and enhanced taste to culinary creations, Ayurvedic remedies, and beauty rituals. Its myriad health benefits, ranging from mood upliftment to antioxidant properties, make it a valuable addition to our everyday live. So, enjoy the taste, the aroma, and the magic of Kashmiri saffron, the golden treasure of the valley.
Why Should You Buy Kashmiri Saffron from My Pahadi Dukan
Due to its high global demand, complex and time bound cultivation process and extremely limited production, Kashmiri saffron is susceptible to counterfeit or adulteration. To ensure authenticity, it is recommended to purchase saffron from trusted sources and reputable brands that guarantee the origin and quality of the product, My Pahadi Dukan effectively takes away that concern as we source our Kashmiri Kesar directly from farming communities personally engaged in the cultivation of this coveted spice.
The hand picking process is precise, as the red stigmas must be separated from the purple petals without damaging them. This requires skilled labor and contributes to the higher cost of Kashmiri saffron. Our Kahsmiri saffron is of the highest quality and has been certified as organic by the relevant authorities. We carefully select and hand-pick only the finest saffron strands to ensure that you are getting the best product available.
By choosing to buy Kashmiri saffron from My Pahadi Dukan, you are incentivizing sustainable agriculture and contributing to preserving traditional chemical free farming practices.