Highlighting the government's decision to issue a Geographical Indication (GI) tag to the Kashmiri saffron earlier this year, PM Modi said that the Kashmiri saffron was gaining its rightful place in the global market after the decision.
Kashmiri saffron clinches the GI tag, a fact PM Modi highlighted during Sunday’s Mann Ki Baat! Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann ki Baat address on Sunday exhorted people to buy the exclusive Kashmiri saffron appreciating its exquisite quality and purity. PM Modi said that the saffron(known as Kesar in Hindi) produced in the Himalayan Union Territory was unique and very different from the saffron grown in other countries of the world. Highlighting the government’s decision to issue a Geographical Indication (GI) tag to the Kashmiri saffron earlier this year, PM Modi said that the Kashmiri saffron was gaining its rightful place in the global market after the decision. The government had provided the GI tag to the Kashmiri saffron in the month of July this year. The Geographical Indication Tag is provided to the products which are grown exclusively in a geographical location and have a distinct origin. Though the Kashmiri saffron is famous across the length and breadth of the country and in the outside world, the formal classification of the product with GI tag helps in the exports and sale of the product in the global markets.
What is so special about the Kashmir saffron?
The Kashmir region is one of the only handful regions in the country where farmers grow saffron. The saffron grown in the Kashmir region is locally known as ‘Zafran’ and grown in the high altitude region falling between the Pir Panjal Range and the Greater Himalaya Range. The fields where the spice is grown are known as the ‘Karewa’ formations where the crop is extensively grown. Like the tea and coffee plantations which require a large number of labourers, the plantation of Zafran is also very labour intensive.
As Kashmir is majorly the only region in the country which grows saffron, the price of the commodity is very high and the spice is considered to be one of the most expensive spices in the world. What adds to its price is also the high cost involved in its production starting from the large number of labourers required to pluck saffron from the plantations along with a host of stages where the saffron is processed.
Use of Saffron in food and various cuisines
Saffron is used for different purposes by different people. While some people use the spice for colouring dishes and exquisite cuisines, some people use the high quality saffron to heighten the taste and nutrition of food. Saffron’s use is very common in sweets and desserts including Kheer(Pudding), Lassi, cakes, and pastries among others. The spice is used in equal measure in spicy dishes like Biryani, Pulao and fish curry. The spice not only heightens the taste and brings a sweet aroma in the food but also makes the food nutritionally rich as the spice is known for its various health benefits.
Health benefits of Saffron
The saffron is consumed in milk to ward off cold, cough and weakness since ages. Considered an extremely vital and potent spice, saffron is also used as an aphrodisiac. The spice is equally effective in giving relief during menstrual pains. In recent years, nutritionists and doctors have also recommended the use of saffron to reduce the chances of cancer infection and cure memory loss.
What are the characteristics to distinguish pure saffron?
Since the spice is ultra expensive and grown in a very small region of the country very few people are able to distinguish the real saffron from fake saffron which is labelled as Kashmiri saffron and sold in different pockets of the country. The chances of malpractices including adulteration, selling substandard quality of saffron are also very high. However, there are steps which people can adopt to distinguish the real saffron. According to the traders and sellers of saffron the real saffron has some remnants of the filaments which is only found in the real saffron. Another way to distinguish the real saffron from the fake saffron is to dissolve the spice in boiled water. If the spice get dissolved in water and leaves its colour then it is real.