Saffron, You Give Me Yellow Fever



Burnt aubergine with saffron yoghurt – there aren’t many things as delish as that. Actually, there’s saffron chicken; saffron paella; saffron bouillabaisse; yellow split pea and saffron stew and so on and so forth. I’ve never kneaded bread, but I hear it imprints itself deliciously into dough with the greatest of ease, as it does rice, cakes and ice cream!

Scattering fiery filaments of edible sunshine – it comes from the purple crocus after all – is downright glorious. Apparently it takes around 80,000 flowers to make 450g of spice, which speaks so much to me. How lucky to be borrowing a plants language, its very essence – that’s a good ouch in my heart right there.

I love a spice because you don’t need green fingers to tend to it. I routinely kill (accidental of course) my basil plants, my orchids, and even my mint. The best thing though about saffron is the way it stains your fingers, that it’s woody, musky and slightly honeyed all at once, that each time you sprinkle it you’re playing a game of strings – just the right amount is YUM, too much is proper DODGY.

I’m such a lover of words that its arabic name, za’farãn, literally and figuratively marks its color and makes me see sunsets. I sort of wish I could play with it in clay and then fire up bronze, gilt, copper and moonlight-silver giant pots. Just imagine that.

In Reading New India: Post-Millennial Indian Fiction in English, E. Dawson Varughese discusses the significance of the color saffron, its connection with a certain identity of Indianness, and connections people make between colors.

“People who are secular should be careful about their choice of colors. A color cannot make a statement about who I am. Because color can also be a camouflage. Look at the chameleon..”

“Tell me, what exactly is a secular color?”

I do not know, not even a jot, but I’m happy to keep playing around with these magical stamens and dipping my fingers into tiny pots of gold.


source: Rothko, Saffron, 1957

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