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How do nations around the world use saffron in cooking?

Saffron is mostly used as a spice in the countries where it is cultivated. Native to the Middle East, this spice is mostly used in Mediterranean, Asian and European cuisine. However, people all over the world are also interested in using saffron in cooking and it is also used in foods such as Paella  and other Greek and Italian rice dishes, Indian palow (Biryani) and Swedish saffron bread.

You can feel the saffron taste very well if you use it in the cooking of foods which have a lot of liquids, such as Bouillabaisse or Risotto.

For better result, the saffron must be soaked in water slowly for a while, before using it. First, grind the saffron with a mortar and powder it. Then add it to the food from the beginning of cooking time so that its extract, aroma, taste and color are completely removed. Note that a very small amount of this valuable spice gives a lot of flavor to the food. So you do not need to grind more than a few branches at a time.


How to use saffron in cooking of different countries:

  • Saffron consumption is common in the cuisine of different countries around the world.
  • In India, this spice is used in the preparation of rice dishes and some types of sweets.
  • But in France and Spain it is mostly used in fish dishes.


Here are some uses of saffron in cooking in different areas:

  • Spaniards and Portuguese use saffron a lot, and this golden spice is found in fish and seafood dishes. The golden color of Paella is famous, which is the national food of Spain and is prepared from a variety of meat and seafood
  • Saffron is also used in Northern Indian cuisine. To prepare thistle, which is a royal dish and is made from lamb thighs, raisin sauce and saffron, the lamb is soaked in saffron for three days in order to taste better.
  • Middle Easterners use saffron and cardamom to flavor coffee.
  • Scandinavians use saffron to make Lussekatter (Lussebullar or Lusseboller) bread. This sweet bread is used in the celebration of Saint Lucia, which is held on December 13 every year.
  • Pennsylvanian Germans (Germans living in eastern Pennsylvania, USA) use saffron to add flavor and color to their special dish, chicken pie. Early German immigrants brought saffron and saffron flowers from Germany and grew them in their backyards. However the resourceful Pennsylvania Germans soon found use for the imported herb to add some zest to their often bland dishes, such as filling, boiled pot pie and chicken. To this day, saffron use in Pennsylvania German foods remains largely a southeastern Pennsylvania phenomenon, but it is not universally popular. While Lancaster County’s “Pennsylvania Dutch” favor the use of this spice, it is less prevalent even in areas as close as neighboring Berks County.
  • Iranians use saffron in their national dish, chalaw kebab. 
  • The Indians use saffron to make a variety of biryani, a traditional dish made with rice. Saffron is also used in the preparation of several types of candies and sweets, including rose hips and kolfi.
  • In Morocco, saffron is used instead of mint to make tea. In addition, this spice is used in the preparation of Moroccan meatballs (a mixture of turmeric meatballs and tomatoes) and Morozia (a salty and sweet food prepared with dill). Saffron is also used in the preparation of Chermola, which is a mixture of vegetables that gives flavor to Moroccan cuisine.


9 foods and drinks that you can prepare using saffron:

1- Bouillabaisse: A traditional French seafood dish that cooks oysters and fish in fish extract, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, saffron and spices.

2- Saffron chicken: Chicken breast cooked in a thick sauce made from olive oil, chicken extract, lemon juice, onion and saffron.

3- Spanish Paella: A Spanish rice dish made with chorizo ​​sausage, shrimp, oysters, chopped vegetables, meat or chicken extract, saffron and spices.

4- Saffron sponge cake with cardamom: A light and fragrant cake that is ground with vanilla, cardamom and saffron to taste.

5- Swedish saffron bread (St. Lucia Crown): A type of sweet bread that tastes like saffron and is sprinkled with raisins and is usually eaten at Christmas.

6- Chicken and Corn Saffron Soup: A thick soup made with fried chicken, corn, egg noodles, saffron, chicken broth and olive oil

7- Milani risotto: A creamy rice dish made from chicken extract, white wine, butter, saffron, chopped onion and Parmesan cheese.

8- Masala milk: A delicious drink that takes flavor from saffron and spices such as cardamom and several types of nuts are added to it.

9- Tehchin: A traditional Iranian and Afghani rice dish that has a golden and toasted pot bottom. This dish is prepared with basmati rice, oil, saffron, egg yolk and plain yogurt.

Some suggestions to increase the consumption of saffron in cooking in order to enjoy its taste, to enhance your immune system and overall  your health: 

1- In cooking all kinds of fish, including halibut and cod, use saffron to give the fish a wonderful taste and color.

2- Make saffron ice cream with it.

3- Use saffron in preparing various stews.

4- Add saffron to flavor and color the sauces.

6- Use saffron to flavor crab or fish cake.

7- Add it to mayonnaise or garlic mayonnaise to get a new color.

8- Pour saffron in your soups to lighten their color.

9- Use saffron to cook the chicken to taste better and enhance its color.


A few tips about using saffron in cooking:
  • Saffron is a luxury spice that you can use to add color and flavor, specially to salty and sweet foods.
  • Saffron can be combined with these spices: almond, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, mint, nutmeg.
  • You can use saffron to flavor these ingredients: chicken, couscous, curry, lamb, nuts, pudding, rice, oysters and soup
  • It is true that saffron is an expensive spice, but a few threads of it are enough to flavor a large dish.
  • When cooking with saffron, do not use wooden tools or mixers, because these tools absorb saffron.
  • The best way to use saffron is to soak it in water or milk for a few minutes, then shake it up to get the taste out.
  • In many ready-to-eat foods that claim to contain saffron, only saffron substitutes and artificial colors are used. So when buying products containing saffron, look for reputable sellers such as Safaroma (


Sources: masterclass, researchgate

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