Acres and acres of land harvesting Kesar is what dots the Valley of Kashmir. On my recent visit there I was lucky to have procured some straight from the fields. Srinagar, Pulwama, Kishtwar and Budgam being the main districts of cultivation, Kashmir is the only place in India with the correct climate and soil to cultivate Kesar. Iran, Spain and Greece with greater resources and higher technology are able to harvest much more and have a huge supply chain to the rest of the world. However, the Indian variety grown in Kashmir is the world’s highest quality of Kesar (Saffron) and also the most expensive.
The harvesting of saffron is extremely labour intensive. The stigmas of the pale pink/purple flower Crocus Sativus are handpicked and dried in sun. Each flower has only 3 stigmas and blooms only during the fall, hence its high price.
The top benefits of kesar are :-
- A known anti-oxidant
- Helps in reduction of inflammation
- Helps is elevating mood and energy level
- Reduction of arthritis pain
- Helps in improving skin pigmentation and radiance
- Helps in improving cognitive and mental functions
- Reduces cough, phlegm, whooping cough
- Helps calm nerves and reduces insomnia
- Helps in the retention of better vision.
It is also used as a food colorant, having a bright orange tint. It can be used to enhance the flavour of many dishes, right from the scrumptious Indian cuisines to the desserts such as ice-creams, kulfi or any milk sweets. Adding just a few threads of saffron can change the palate.
I personally use saffron for its skin benefits and its energizing properties. Being anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, it is great for reduction of acne, pigmentation as well as the radiance and healing for your skin. I use about 5/6 strands in a glass of warm water and have it immediately on awakening in the morning.
But think of it as a small investment to your health and do add this to your meal.