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Recipe Redux: Saffron and Rose Vermicelli

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This Months Recipe Redux is all about cooking with Floral Flavours. Floral infusions, flavours and flowers themselves help to brighten any dish! They help to add a certain sophistication, colour, aroma and flavour, to salads, desserts, dips…. the list is endless! I recently received a wheel of saffron from an Aunt and Uncle who visited Iran. Many households always have a tightly closed jar of saffron, stashed all the way in the back of the spice cupboard, and its use kept for the most rarest of occasions! If you have been gifted saffron, you are most definitely loved and cherished- for saffron is one of the most expensive spices!

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Saffron is spice obtained from the stigmas of the flower of Crocus sativus Linnaeus, commonly known as Rose of Saffron.
Crocus sativus Linnaeus belongs to the family of Iridaceae and it is characterized for having a purple flower with red stigmas and yellow stamens. Saffron dates back thousands of years and is popular in Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, Iranian, Greek and Italian cuisine. As seen in the picture below, the sowing and gathering of saffron is a very hard job as it is done by hand and is extremely hard on the back! Once the flowers are gathered, stigmas are separated from the rest of the flower. The fact that more than 85.000 flowers are needed to obtain just one kilo of saffron gives us an idea of how hard this work is.

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Saffron and Rose Vermicelli

This recipe is the perfect mix of rose, saffron and coconut.

1 Tablespoon Ghee

1 cup Vermicilli/ Hev

3 sachets of sugar- lite sachets (you can alternatively use any other non- nutritive sweetener that is safe to cook with)

pinch of saffron

1/4 cup rose water or 2tsp rose essence(good rose water or rose essence is essential. The cheaper rose essence does not even compare to the cheaper version)

1/4 cup desicated coconut

pink colour

1/2 tsp cardomom seeds (crushed to a fine powder)

2 cups boiling water

Method:

– First things first, the Saffron needs to be soaked in hot- but not boiling water to release the aroma, flavour and colour. TO do this, pour 1/2 a cup of boiling water into a cup and let it cool slightly. Once slightly cooled, add a pinch of saffron and set the cup aside to allow the saffron to ‘come alive’.

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– In a wide bottomed saucepan, heat the ghee until melted, add the vermicelli and braise until light brown with the cardamom powder. Remove from heat.

– Mix 1 cup boiling water with a drop of pink colour, sugar- lite and rose water. Add to the vermicelli and stir well.

– Put the pot back on a low heat, to simmer and close the lid. Stirring regularly.

– Add the Saffron water and coconut to the vermicelli. Stir and let the vermicelli cook till done.

– Garnish with sliced unsalted pistachios, slivered almonds, rose petals and a tiny dollop of mascarpon cheese. Enjoy hot as a dessert or as a sweet starter to your Eid Biryani!

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