Where did the seeds of the saffron flower come from? How were the spices and herbs grown? Where did the saffron seeds originate? How did these spices and herbs become cultivated? How were the grains used in saffron production? And so forth.
It’s no wonder that Indians love to brag about their culinary achievements – saffron is a highly valued ingredient. And it is in many ways an indigenous Indian spice as well.
The earliest written reference to saffron dates back to the 6th century BCE. The Indian historian Chaitanya Sena refers to a Sanskrit dictionary and in the entry for dorjeet, saffron is noted. Sena gives the Sanskrit pronunciation of saffron thus, shafte. According the Sanskrit lexicon, dorjeet is an exotic spice and may have once had something to do with a herb used as dietary supplement in India before it spread to other parts of the world.
The word is also found in Greek literature. Scholars have suggested that dorjeet was the Greek word translated doros as “thunderflower.”
Dorjeet is one of the most common spices in India as well. Spice traders, the merchants of trade, used it for centuries to spice their wares.
In India, the word dorjeet was also used in Hindi for ‘hindi’ and ‘spice’. Today, the word dorjeet is often used in the form of ‘saffron’, although it is known in other Asian countries such as China.
Saffron was used extensively after 1500 BCE as an ingredient in Indian cooking, but it was only around the 1800’s that saffron was cultivated in great numbers. In the 16th century in India, the first record of a field of saffron in the Western world is on a Portuguese shipwreck in the Gulf of Cambay, off India. It was only from the 18th century onwards that the spice became one of the most traded spices in the world.
Today, saffron is used as spice in soaps, cooking oils, corsages, creams, sweets, dressings, condiments, and even in cosmetic treatments.
Today, most saffron is grown in Asia. In Asia, saffron grows in the southern areas of India and Nepal. This region includes India’s southern district of Karnataka. Saffron is not only used for its medicinal properties
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