Saffron Latte

Saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world, was used a few thousand years ago by Indian queens to decorate their forehead with motifs such as sun, moon, crescent moon, or star. It was ground into a paste along with ghee and used as kumkum, hence the name kumkum flower/ kunguma poo. This tradition of applying kumkum is still practiced by almost every Hindu woman even today. Nowadays we use turmeric powder instead of saffron for preparing kumkum powder, and we prepare a beverage, Saffron Latte, using saffron.

kumkum-2 Saffron Latte

Kumkum powder is mostly used by married women on the parting line of hair and also on the forehead. Lately, every woman, young or old, would like to stick an ornamental adhesive motif (bindi) on the forehead instead of kumkum.

kumkum Saffron Latte
Kumkum powder & adhesive bindi

Women in all walks of life, whether she is a minister, police officer, activist, CEO of a multinational company, actress, teacher, scientist, doctor, or housewife still follow the same tradition. We like to apply kumkum powder along the parting line of our hair, stick an adhesive bindi between the eyebrows, wear a string of fresh fragrant flowers on our head, and also drape a 5-meter long colorful silk saree during festivals, weddings, etc.

i1 Saffron Latte
Aishwarya Rai, the former Miss World, is seen in a saree wearing Bindi on her forehead and jasmine flowers on her head.

How to use saffron flowers:

We use saffron for both culinary & medicinal purposes. We use it as a food additive for both sweet and savory dishes as it imparts a beautiful yellow color & delicious aroma. I prefer to soak saffron in hot milk for few minutes before adding to desserts, curries, or rice dishes like biryani or pulav to get the desired color.

saffron-recipes Saffron Latte
Saffron in sweet or savory dishes

Saffron Latte health benefits:

Ayurveda recommends taking a glass of saffron latte (Kesar milk/ kungumapoo paal) for skin lightening and also for glowing skin. So it is a common practice here that pregnant women like to take Saffron Latte to improve the complexion of the baby inside her womb even though such theory is entirely dismissed by gynecologists. Since saffron is also useful to treat insomnia, it is ideal to take a cup of Saffron Latte at night after dinner.

sm-3 Saffron Latte
Kesar milk

Saffron Latte recipe:

Now let’s prepare saffron milk (Kesar milk) sweetened with palm sugar (panangarkandu). You may also check out the similar recipe for turmeric latte (or golden milk) here.

Saffron Latte

sm-1 Saffron Latte
Kungumapoo paal


Cow’s milk (or any plant-based milk)500 ml
Saffron strandsa pinch
Palm sugar (panang karkandu)as needed
Pistachios (and/or almonds) for garnishingas desired
sm-2 Saffron Latte

How to prepare saffron milk:

  • Heat a sauce pan with milk in medium flame.
  • When the milk begins to boil add a pinch of saffron strands.
  • Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until saffron gets infused with milk.
  • Add coarsely ground palm sugar into the milk.
  • Stir in until sugar crystals are dissolved.
  • Add powdered cardamom seeds into milk.
  • Mix well and remove from heat.
  • Garnish with slivered/ chopped pista/ badam before serving.
  • Serve warm saffron latte after dinner.
Saffron-milk Saffron Latte
Saffron latte recipe

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  1. Looks so delicious and healthy, dear Megala, and quite easy to make!! 🙂
    Price though, of course, horrible… 🙂
    Wishing you a wonderful and cosy week, dear friend! ?☀️

    1. Oh, thats nice. Ayurveda recommends milk as the best medium for cooking saffron, I’m sure you will like this. 🙂
      Thank you so much for reading & commenting.

  2. you had me at latte
    its incredible how pricey this spice is
    can folks grow the plant at home at all?
    the rice looks delish
    love yellow rice and yours is extra fancier
    interesting that this latte helps insomnia
    i would imagine it would actually keep one awake (thinking how much they had aid for it) haha!
    rai always looks like a beauty

    1. Yes, it is too expensive. 🙂
      I’m glad you liked this post! Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

    1. Yes, thank you so much, Laura, for reading & commenting. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Yes, I would rather end this month with a shot of saffron milk. Thanks Deeksha!

  3. Very informative post Megala.. Love how you share traditional recipes and traditions in your posts and spread the knowledge!!

  4. The recipe was super easy. My kids simply love it. mainly my daughter who is a bit obsessed with skin care. thanks for sharing the recipe. Now I know how to make her drink a glass of milk without hassle.

  5. I absolutely love the aroma saffron lends to both sweet and savory recipes! Great share Megala!

  6. (EN) It’s a lovely post indeed, Megala?. South Indian culture and much more in a sweet cup of paal?.Thanks for sharing
    (IT) È davvero un bel post, Megala?. La cultura dell’india meridionale e molto altro ancora in una tazza di paal?. Grazie per la condivisione

  7. Wow! saree, Bindi, flower, the calm look… extremely beautiful.
    I saw saffron in the store. It is, indeed, very expensive! I was wondering how to use saffron and why it is expensive… now reading your writing, it answers my questions! Amazing nice cultural power and beauty. Thank you, Megala!

    1. Yes, she is so beautiful! 🙂
      It is quite interesting to see how our food, culture, traditions are intertwined with one another, and I’m glad you also liked this confluence.
      Thank you so much for your time.

      1. Thank you for the nice articles! I learned a lot from you (as a beautiful writer and culture observer) and your articles.
        I do hope people consistently share the beauty of cultures and bring out the real peace to the world~ ^^

    1. I don’t want to discard the expensive saffrons by straining the milk, so I feel It is better to take this milk as it is to enjoy the benefits of saffron to the fullest.
      Thank you so much.

        1. Yes, children won’t like those aadai/ thin film formed while boiling milk, so we can just blend the milk using mixer or hand blender and serve them frothy latte.

  8. Saffron is very good and it is very tasty when kept in kheer and biryani too. It has such great properties to cure too. Megala you are too good with your recipes. Thank you so much always. Good post.

    1. Yes, its fragrance is so distinct that it goes well with sweet & savory dishes.
      Thank you so much.

    1. Yes, simple recipe with amazing health benefits that every one would like to enjoy. 🙂
      Thanks Niranjana.

  9. I love how saffron change a dish in aspect and taste! Really good! Aishwarya Rai, she’s so beautiful!
    Thank you for this beautiful information! It is expensive but is well worth it!

    1. Yes, saffron is an amazing ingredient, it is not only lending a beautiful color & aroma to the dishes but also possessing wonderful health benefits.
      Thanks for reading & commenting.

      1. I add some crushed… black pepper, cinnamon, tiny piece of clove & cardamom. And if in season I grate fresh turmeric root to add to the milk! My friend even adds cumin to it at such times!

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