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 a design like the 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 in the preparation of kumkum.
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.
Women in all walks of life, whether she is a minister, police officer, activist, CEO of a multinational company, actress, teacher, scientist, doctor, or a 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.
We use saffron for both culinary & medicinal purposes. As it imparts a beautiful yellow color & delicious aroma we use it as food additive for both the sweet and savory dishes. We usually soak saffron in hot milk for few minutes before adding into desserts, curries, or rice dishes like biryani or pulav to get the desired color.
Saffron health benefits:
Ayurveda recommends to take saffron latte (kesar milk/ kungumapoo paal) for skin lightening and also for glowing skin. So it is a common practice here that pregnant women are encouraged to take saffron latte to improve the complexion of baby inside her womb even though such theory is entirely dismissed by gynecologists. Since saffron is also useful to treat insomnia, it is suggested to take saffron latte in the nights after dinner.
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.
|Cow’s milk (or any plant based milk)||500 ml|
|Saffron strands||a pinch|
|Palm sugar (panang karkandu)||as needed|
|Pistachios (and/or almonds) for garnishing||as desired|
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.