What is Saffron? Saffron is one of the world’s oldest luxury ingredients, with uses tracing back over 3500 years. Derived from the saffron crocus flower, it has seen uses throughout history as a fragrance, dye, seasoning, and medicine.
While there is some debate about its origin, popular Kashmir legend says that saffron was brought to South Asia in the 11th century by two religious travelers who fell ill while passing through the area. The local tribe helped nurse them back to health, and as they departed, they gifted the tribe a single saffron crocus bulb in exchange for their kindness. Today, these two travelers are treated as saints, and have a golden shrine dedicated to them in Pampore, India, where saffron is the chief export. Prayers are still offered to these two saints during saffron harvest, which takes place in late autumn.