Our Kashmir Saffron is 100% pure and is free from additives. To harness the full flavour gamut of Kashmir Saffron, we recommend a typical infusion time of about 45 minutes to an hour or more. Kashmir Saffron can be infused in warm water, milk or wine. To witness this process, kindly watch our introductory video here.
Kashmir Saffron (ISO Category-I / IS Grade-A / Local Grade: mogra / mongra) is the most potent variety of saffron in the world. It has some of the highest levels of safranal, crocin & picrocrocin – compounds which give saffron its intense aroma, vivid colour and characteristic taste. One can easily distinguish Kashmir “Mongra” Saffron from other grades as only the thickest and darkest (maroon-purple) stigmas are selected for sale within the “Mongra” category.
Kashmir Saffron is also the rarest and the most expensive form of Saffron available in the markets as annual production is limited to only about 2000-2500 kg which is less than 1% of total world production. Post harvest, most of the stocks are sold to Michelin star restaurants around the world as well as private collectors and connoisseurs of fine and rare spices.
Cautionary note: One may encounter saffron powders or crushed threads in the market which claim to impart instant colour, aroma and flavour to various dishes. Note that these products often go through numerous adulterating processes like chemical colour baths, safflower/turmeric mixing, addition of saffron styles and stigma tails (yellow coloured less potent threads of the flower) and even addition of synthetic replicas of saffron threads.
Authentic Kashmir Saffron threads should ideally be used as an influsion (soaked in warm water, milk or wine). During this process, Kashmir Saffron strands will slowly exude colour, aroma and flavour to the solution.
Note: Post infusion, authentic saffron threads will remain whole and not dissolve in the infusion.
Kashmir Saffron cultivated in and around saffron fields of Pampore in Kashmir has consistently produced some of the best saffron in the world. Every year, we procure some of the most potent batches from this region and promote the best of the lot (with a coloring strength of 230+) to our esteemed customers.
Unlike uni-dimensional saffron produced in other parts of the world, Kashmir Saffron has a pleasant honey-like aroma and a sweet after-taste which makes it ideal for a wide range of culinary applications from desserts to savoury preparations and even beverages.
Each pack of Kashmir Saffron is stamped with three essential figures. Crocin (colour), Picrocrocin (flavour) and Safranal (aroma) levels based on laboratory tests. Though it’s prudent to note that colouring strength diminishes over time and is the most potent till two months from the date of harvest.
Kashmir Saffron is an excellent choice for your plating needs as it mostly consists of lush, thick and all red/maroon threads without the tail ends of the stigmas. Post infusion, Kashmir Saffron threads bloom into thick bright red strands which act as natural embellishments.
Every Kashmir Saffron harvest is certified using IS 5453 / 3632 and phytosanitary standards. Only those batches which match specifications for Category-I saffron are approved for further sale.
Our Kashmir Saffron comes exclusively from one plantation, one harvest and one processing unit located in Kashmir. This guarantees consistency of colour and flavour which is of paramount importance to our clients in the culinary industry.
Every Kashmir Saffron batch (upto 5 kg) selected for sale locally or for export is thoroughly tested to gauge its potency, quality and purity. We also release a “provenance / proof of origin” certificate (issued by the Government of India) with every export batch.
In order to produce a kilogram of Kashmir Saffron, nearly 150000 to 170000 flowers have to be harvested in a time consuming and laborious process which involves over fifty labourers hand-picking flowers for further processing. Each flower contains three stigmas. Red tips of stigmas (ideally the first 17 millimeters) are separated and dried quickly upon extraction. Higher the number of these dark red stigmas, higher is the value of the saffron. Kashmir Saffron can be identified by its dark red/maroon (with a purple tinge) coloured strands which are thick and flat in appearance. These are then packed in airtight glass bottles for further distribution. Plastic, wooden or cork packages are not used as these are detrimental to flavouring strength of saffron strands.
The Crocus buds begin to flower in the middle of autumn (October). Each flower has three stigmas. These stigmas tend to be yellow in colour at the end which is attached to the flower and red on the end which is loose. Flowers are picked at dawn before they wilt and their stigmas are carefully separated by hand and dried in a mildly sunlit room for around 6 hours. These dried stigmas are further sorted into exclusively red stigmas (high quality saffron) and reddish yellow stigmas (medium quality saffron). Broken stigmas are separated to produce saffron powder.
Vivid crimson colouring, slight moistness, elasticity, and lack of broken-off thread debris are all traits of fresh saffron.
Almost all saffron grows in a dry belt stretching from Spain in the west to India in the east. Total annual world production of saffron is around 300000 kg. Out of the same, about 50000 kg is Grade-I saffron. That’s about 16% of the total production.
Iran answers for around 279000 kg of global production. Greece ranks second in production with 5700 kg, while Morocco and India (Kashmir) produce 2300 kg each.
Austria, Germany, and Switzerland (Mund), Australia (Tasmania), China, Egypt, England (Burnham Norton), France, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey (Safranbolu), California and Central Africa all produce a few kilograms of saffron.
One must know how to take full advantage of the entire range of flavours packed in these delicate saffron threads without wasting this precious spice away. To truly enjoy the exotic flavours of Kashmir Saffron, we recommend soaking whole Saffron threads in 30 to 40 ml of hot (75 degrees Celsius) water, milk or wine for at least 45 minutes! The saffron threads will impart their taste, aroma and colour to this solution, which can then be used to flavour your saffron based dishes. One can also leave this mixture overnight to create a potent infusion.
Saffron tends to lose its potency when exposed to the elements. Hence it should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place away from sunlight. We avoid using absorbent and/or reactive materials when packing our saffron. Our Kashmir Saffron is packed in food grade inert airtight glass jars with dual layered tight tin caps. We also recommend our consumers to harness the power of Kashmir Saffron while it is fresh; ideally within six to eight months from the date of harvest. Coloring strength of saffron tends to diminish with time.
Featured photograph // An up close look at Kashmir Saffron threads being soaked in warm water.
A world full of different flavours with endless possibilities: Serve appetizers with nuanced flavours of Cumin and Coriander seeds. Redefine traditional meat roasts with exotic Tandoori and Garam Masala marinades. Possess the power of turning regular old tea into Masala Chai and any old red wine into Mulled Wine (Glühwein) with just a single drop! From countless flavouring ideas to enliven your morning teas, evening coffees and late night cocktails to imparting exotic and otherwise inaccessible flavours like Rose, Saffron and Cardamom to your dessert menus; it’s time to expand your culinary horizons with our Michelin grade award winning range of Spice Drops®.
With over 15 flavours (new flavours being added regularly), one can easily deliver a wide gamut of tastes to refined & discerning palettes of your customers – all within seconds and at one fifth the price!
What are Spice Drops®?: Spice Drops® are super concentrated extracts (oils and resins) of actual spices and herbs which impart vibrant, vivid and authentic flavours to your drinks, desserts and dishes. Since Spice Drops® are in essence actual oils and resins of natural spices and they can be classified as natural food/drink flavourings and essences. Unlike many other essences available in the market, Spice Drops® do not contain any alcohol, artificial flavours, artificial colours or artificial aromas. Each Spice Drops® vial comes with a precision dropper so that you can easily measure your spice level units in drops.
Whole spices vs Spice Drops®: While whole spices and herbs do provide those essential textures and add an old world charm to dishes, they tend to be inconsistent depending on the origin and processing method of the spice. Whole spices and herbs tend to have a shorter shelf-life and end up losing flavour over time. Irrespective of storage conditions, fresh herbs like mint and lemongrass wilt away within a few days rendering them unfit for consumption. One also requires tremendous care and diligence when handling whole spices and herbs like cardamom pods, rose leaves, nutmeg, mint, saffron etc. With Spice Drops® one can either be a culinary professional or an amateur foodie and still operate on the same level of precision due to the authenticity of flavours and ease of use offered by the product. In the case of Spice Drops®, one drop is all it takes to impart flavour as opposed to cleaning, sorting, grinding, grating, filtering etc. when actual spices are used for cooking.
Practicality & precision: Most modern practical culinary applications require precision and consistency where flavour profiles are to be matched over hundreds of portions, day in and day out. Time is also of the essence in the modern industrial kitchen. Using Spice Drops, chefs can save a lot of time by bypassing rudimentary tasks like preparation of whole spices for culinary use. With Spice Drops® one can confidently handle hundreds of orders without ever worrying about spice proportions. Delegation of tasks makes the kitchen more efficient, as less experienced cooks can also attain the same level of flavour proficiency by using Spice Drops® instead of using whole spices.
Molecular gastronomy: There are certain experimental culinary applications within the realm of molecular gastronomy where using a whole spice is just not viable. Spice Drops® are perfect to infuse a variety of mediums with your favourite flavours. Irrespective of whether it’s spherification, gelling, foaming, spraying etc., molecular chefs can rely on Spice Drops® to enhance their dishes with the most vivid flavours without disturbing the core form of the dish.
These are just some of the reasons why chefs, confectioners, baristas, bartenders and even amateur cooks prefer using concentrated extracts of spices over their whole spice counterparts.
Here are some of the reasons why it is prudent to include Spice Drops® in your kitchen inventory:
+ Economical: Nearly one fifth the price of whole spices.
+ Authentic: Extracted from real spices without the addition of artificial flavourants or aromatic agents.
+ Simple: No cleaning, sorting, grinding or grating of whole spices.
+ Easy: Requires little or no experience to produce mind-blowing flavours in an instant!
+ Instant: Add a few drops and get desired flavours and aromas within seconds.
+ Versatile: A wide range of culinary applications from drinks to gourmet dishes.
+ Flexible: Can be used at any stage of the cooking process.
+ Consistent: Better cooking with precise flavour levels and reliable results.
+ Provenance: Clear provenance of ingredients.
+ Accessible: A wide variety of spices at your fingertips.
+ Fusion-friendly: Can be easily foamed, sprayed (atomized), gelled and infused.
+ Stable: All products have a three year shelf-life.
+ Clean: Helps keep your kitchen and workplace neat and tidy.
Spice Drops® have been categorized into groups according to their price points.
Cumin Seed, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Spearmint
Cardamom, Cinnamon, Garam Masala, Ginger, Nutmeg, Tea Masala
Coriander Seed, Mulled Wine (Glühwein), Rose, Tandoori Masala
A drop of Tea Masala Spice Drops® can turn a regular cup of tea into flavourful “Masala Chai” and a drop of Glühwein Spice Drops® can turn any glass of red wine into Glühwein – a wide assortment of drinks, desserts and dishes; both easy as well as complex can be prepared using these wonderful extracts.
Spice Drops® can universally flavour any culinary medium provided these basic instructions are followed:
+ Use hot, warm or lukewarm mediums when adding Spice Drops®. This greatly increases miscibility.
+ It’s recommended to shake, stir or blend the medium after Spice Drops® are added to it.
+ While preparing drinks, it is recommended that Spice Drops® be added to the vessel before pouring in the liquid medium.
+ To understand the ideal dosage, it’s prudent to dilute Spice Drops® in a smaller portion before introducing it into the final dish.
+ As a general rule, liquid mediums require less concentration of Spice Drops® compared to semi-solid or solid mediums.
Note for chefs & bartenders: Miscibility of Spice Drops® can be greatly influenced by the temperature of the medium. When using Spice Drops® to prepare cold drinks (cocktails, iced-teas, cold coffees) and dishes (marinades and desserts), make sure that the medium is thoroughly shaken or blended well after Spice Drops® are added to the same. We recommend adding Spice Drops® directly to hot drinks (teas & coffees) and dishes (curries and soups). For lukewarm drinks (masala-milk) and dishes (tandoori/meat-glaze) a light stir after adding Spice Drops® would suffice. While one could simply add a few drops of Spice Drops® to their dishes and derive a satisfactory results, more complex recipes will require extended knowledge of these extracts and oleoresins as each flavour has its own unique miscibility and flavouring characteristics.
According to our experiential knowledge, some Spice Drops® flavours are harder to harness than others. For those who are new to spices or spice extracts, we’ve outlined a few flavour specific guidelines to aid your culinary adventures.
These Spice Drops® are authentic oleoresins extracted from actual vanilla pods. Therefore, the flavour is milder than synthetic vanilla essence or essence extracted in an alcoholic medium. It’s recommended to use 2 or more drops per 100 ml/mg to appreciate the true flavour of Vanilla Spice Drops®. Blending the medium using a mixer or blender is also recommended.
These award winning Spice Drops® are extracted from Iranian Saffron threads. These drops possess an inherently low degree of miscibility. It’s highly recommended that one blends the medium thoroughly in order to achieve a homogeneous solution. It’s also recommended to use these drops in a lukewarm or hot medium.
Saffron Spice Drops® can be combined with actual all red Kashmir Saffron to create numerous delicious and presentable saffron delicacies on a tight budget without compromising on the flavour of this precious spice.
Spice Drops® currently have two very distinct mint based extracts; Peppermint and Spearmint. The former can be described as being pungent with a higher level of menthol which imparts a cooling effect. Peppermint can even be used to flavour savoury dishes, provided it is used in moderation. Spearmint on the other hand is sweeter and is used to prepare a wide range of drinks and desserts.
These Spice Drops® add that quintessential “Indian” taste and aroma to any dish you decide to use these in. The most ideal method for using these extracts is to mix the required amount in a small quantity of water or melted butter and then adding this solution to a marinade or as a glaze. Since these Spice Drops® can be overpowering, we recommend using these carefully in calculated iterations.
How are Spice Drops® manufactured?: Great ingredients create great culinary sensations and this rule couldn’t be more correct in the case of Spice Drops®. Spices required to produce Spice Drops® are obtained from local farms in India with the exception of Saffron Spice Drops®. Our Saffron Spice Drops® are produced from some of the finest imported Iranian Saffron. These ingredients and the respective farms are monitored by the ‘Spices Board of India’ to check conformity within the scope of stringent quality regulations set by the Government of India. Field officers at ‘Spices Board of India’ pay regular visits to these farms to guide farmers regarding protocols, best practices and standards of cultivating some of the most potent spices in the world. These whole spices are then put through a three step process in order to extract their precious oleoresins:
a. Cold-pressing spices: Selected spices are cold-pressed using rollers. This is a non-heat generating crushing process (cold process) which ensures that none of the essential flavours of these spices are lost.
b. Extraction: These crushed spices are then passed through an extraction vessel where a solvent (Ethyl acetate) is percolated to obtain the maximum spice extracts. The most important step is carried out next as this extract is then passed through a de-solventiser where the solvent is removed using a vacuum suction so that it doesn’t affect the flavours. Not even a trace of this solvent is left during this process.
c. Conclusion: After removing even the tiniest traces of the solvent, what we are left with are pure super concentrated oleoresins of the original spice (oleoresins = oil + resin). In accordance to these precise standards of dilution, the final oleoresin is mixed with an emulsifier (Polysorbate 80, also known as EU433) to obtain the final product in the desired ratio suitable for cooking purposes. Dilution ratios are different for different spices and an exhaustive list of ideal dilutions has been created after years of research on this topic.
What is Polysorbate 80 (EU433)?: Polysorbate 80 (EU433) is an EU approved emulsifier (complete list of EU approved emulsifiers can be found here) made from natural sorbitol and plant-based oleic acid. Currently, the main use of Polysorbate 80 (EU433) is as an emulsifier or defoamer in foods (chocolates & ice-creams), vitamins, medicines, and vaccines. It is extremely versatile and effective while also being non-toxic, non-mutagenic and non-carcinogenic with very little potential for human skin irritation, sensitization or phototoxicity. It can also be seen in the ‘The Handbook of Green Chemicals’ in the ‘Whole Foods’ approved ingredients (whose standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available). More on Polysorbate 80 (EU433) on Wikipedia & research papers on ‘The Honest Blog’ / Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Where are Spice Drops® manufactured?: Spice Drops® are manufactured at an ISO9001:2008 & GMP approved manufacturing unit (Vaishali Industries / Holy Lama Naturals) located in the heart of “Spice Country” – Kerala, India.
Featured photograph // An assortment of spices typically present in every Indian kitchen.
Featured photograph // Majestic Himalayan mountain ranges as seen from Kashmir, India (North India)
Featured photograph // An early morning sunrise over Munnar Hills in Kerala, India. (South India)