Saffron pairs well with flavors such as apples, almonds, cardamom, honey, poultry (particularly heritage chickens and squab), bone marrow, milk or cream (try it in ice cream!), cinnamon, lamb, seafood, garlic, white wine, vinegar, rose water, and citrus fruits.
Saffron is known to be the most expensive spice by weight, mainly due to the amount of work involved in its cultivation (see video below). It has been used to flavour food & beverages for centuries in specific parts of the world, such as Spain, Greece & Iran.
Not only is saffron expensive, it is more expensive than any other spice. The reason is that the process of harvesting it takes a long time and involves a lot of precise work. That said, it is well worth the money if you use it properly. Not only does it bring an appetizing, bright yellow color to your dishes, but it can also bring an earthy and floral flavor to them as well.
Try these saffron recipes when you need something tasty, fun, and gorgeous.
Saffron Milk Cake:
Saffron milk cake is light, fluffy, and incredibly moist – so moist that it’s bordering on juicy.
The saffron gives it a vibrant yellow color and a sweet, flowery taste, while the whipped cream topping makes it even sweeter.
Persian Saffron Rice (Tachin):
With its perfectly golden crust and the bright yellow rice inside, tachin is a dish that’s stunning to behold.
The barberries add a lovely splash of red and give it a sweetly tart taste.
Like many Persian dishes, this one looks like it’ll be challenging to make, but it isn’t. In fact, it takes only 15 minutes of prep time.
The other 60-80 minutes are idle bake time.
Sholeh Zard (Persian Saffron Rice Pudding):
Since Persia exports some of the world’s finest, most fragrant saffron, it’s no surprise that several Persian dishes feature it prominently.
Sholeh Zard – saffron rice pudding – is no exception.
It has a thick, pudding-like consistency, a bold yellow color, and a delicate, sweet aroma that makes the whole thing irresistible.
Chicken Saffron Rice Pilaf
It takes about 40 minutes to pull together, and you’ll need only ten ingredients.
Besides the saffron, everything else is pretty standard – ghee (or olive oil), carrots, celery, basmati or jasmine rice, chicken broth, onion powder, chicken breasts, lemon, and parsley.
Persian Saffron Milkshake:
This yellow drink may look like a frothy glass of orange juice, but it’s actually a saffron milkshake.
It’s thick, sweet, and effortless to make.
All you’ll need is vanilla ice cream, milk, saffron, cardamom, and rosewater. When blended, it becomes super creamy and tastes and smells incredible too.
It may be a bit decadent for a milkshake, but it sure is good.
How to use Saffron?
Pre-Toasting: Many recipes and saffron fans will tell you that you should lightly toast saffron threads on the stove to dry them out completely, enhancing their flavor. Whether or not this is a good idea actually depends on how thoroughly the saffron you have was dried. The producers of our Persian saffron threads do not recommend toasting, because it’s already extremely well dried (and would scorch), whereas the makers of our Spanish saffron threads do.
To toast saffron, simply briefly heat the threads in a dry skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Keep them moving, and keep a very close eye on them, you don’t want them to scorch.
Pre-Steeping: In general, saffron threads should be steeped in a hot, acidic, or alcoholic liquid for at least 20 minutes prior to being added to your dish. Once steeped, both the threads and the liquid are added to the dish.
Converting Saffron Powder Recipes to Threads: A good rule is to use roughly 20 threads for each pinch (~1/16th tsp) of powder called for. However, high quality threads are more potent, so you may not need as much. Remember to add a pre-steeping step to the recipe (perhaps in 1-2tsp of hot water) if it doesn’t already include one. Alternatively, you can crush saffron threads into your own powder (toast the saffron first if you normally would when using whole) and follow the original recipe measurements.
Saffron Tips to Keep in Mind:
- Saffron’s released pigment is so potent it stains (at least temporarily) very easily. Avoid using wooden or porous plastic utensils or containers.
- Saffron will continue to release flavor into the steeping liquid for up to twelve hours (at a slower and slower rate) if you let it, so if you don’t mind waiting you can get even more bang for your saffron buck.