Time Travel With Me To Kashmir
Couple of years ago, we spent two weeks touring the northern parts of India. Having grown up in India, these parts were always at the top of our 'to-visit' list, but somehow we could never make it happen...until now!
Summer of 2018, we were fortunate enough to visit the region of Pampore, also known as the 'Saffron Town of Kashmir'. Saffron is by far the most expensive spice in the world and this region of Pampore alone is known to produce close to 4500 lb of saffron every year!
The people from that region were extremely friendly and treated us as if were family. Our tour guide took us to one of his friend's homes where we were able to see how the saffron plant and flowers were processed.
I was awestruck by their beautiful home, intricate and hand-carved patterns covering the wall and ceiling. Even more striking was the permanent fragrance of saffron that seemed to have penetrated through each and every room, furniture and fabric of the house.
(Image courtesy - Google)
The Saffron plant bears beautiful purple flowers in fall. It has yellow stamens and a reddish-orange stigma. This is what ultimately becomes the saffron strand.
Once the flowers are harvested, the processing itself is long and laborious and involves many steps. The stigma is carefully separated from the rest of the flower and a huge pile is made. This is worked upon by the farmers and hence begins the careful separating and drying process.
The deeper the color, the stronger the flavor!
It takes thousands of flowers to make an ounce of Saffron. This explains why it is such an expensive spice!
This is sort of dried, but will be dried some more!
We are loosening up strands by hand here!
After this long and laborious process, we were treated to a cup of Kahwah Tea, made with saffron strands, cinnamon bark, green cardamom pods and Kashmiri rose petals for enhanced flavor. Yummy!
Writing this gives me goosebumps and I am very grateful for the time we spent there, because a lot has changed since...
PS: In case you are wondering, we don't carry Saffron or the Kahwah Tea. However, if you are an avid masala tea lover like me, do check out our Chai Blend :).