Because it is such painstaking work to obtain one kilo of saffron, the trade is usually rife with substances that closely resemble the real thing. It is only a fair degree of expertise that can distinguish between the two. Sanjay Raina, a caterer of fine Kashmiri food, points out that while real saffron must have a sweet smell, it must never actually taste sweet. Drop a few strands in water, and while both the real and the fake will leach their colour into the water, the real saffron will remain crimson, while the pretender will turn white.Harpreet Singh Chhabra of Baby Saffron, one of the most reliable brands in the world, cautions against buying a few strands in a plastic box without a brand name, address or telephone number from a person you don’t know. His logic is that when the seller is an identifiable entity, it becomes less easy to indulge in malpractices. Chhabra, of course, can tell good quality saffron from poor quality; real saffron from fake and this year’s crop from old saffron that is past its sell-by date. Apparently, it is not uncommon to mix fake and real saffron together. It is also not unheard of to keep saffron strands more moist than they should be, because water makes them heavy!
Sharp shooting practices apart, you only have to place one single strand on your tongue for the slow aroma and flavor of the world’s most precious spice to develop slowly on your palate to know just how unique and subtle the cachet of saffron really is.About the Author:
Marryam H Reshii has been writing about food and lifestyle for a quarter of a century! She travels around the country to far-flung tribal villages and long-forgotten corners in search of elusive ingredients, obscure cooking vessels and recipes that are in danger of being supplanted by 'modernity'.Disclaimer:
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