threads as they are also called are orange-red dried stigmas of
a small purple flower called the Crocus Sativus. Saffron's
aroma is unique and there is no substitute for it. It is used in
cooking to flavor and color the dish a wonderful golden yellow
color. In Indian cooking it is highly prized and added to many Indian
sweets and "special occasion" savory dishes like
Biryani, Pulaos and even some curries.
A little pinch of
the threads goes a long way. There are two techniques for getting
every bit of flavor out of the saffron: toasting and powdering
the threads, and steeping the saffron ahead of time in hot water
or broth. Saffron should always be bought as a whole
and not in the powdered from. The threads should be crushed just
before using. Store saffron airtight in a cool, dark place for
up to 6 months or in the refrigerator.