Top Ways to Use the Wonder Spice, Saffron

One of my all-time favorite spices is the ever-magical, oh-so-versatile saffron. It’s a spice that is often times foreign to most people’s spice rack, but it’s one of the best ways to impart a wonderfully vibrant flavor and hue to your dishes, whether savory or sweet.


Saffron originates from the Mediterranean and is grown primarily in Spain. You’ll find it as a key ingredient in paella, adding earthy notes that contrast well with briny seafood and spicy sausage. Saffron boasts a symphony of complex flavors, including honey and floral, spicy and slightly bitter notes and is delicious in broths and sauces. It’s a bit labor intensive to harvest, and as a result, carries a heftier price tag than most spices on the shelf. However, there are few other spices that carry the same depth and dimension. Plus, a little saffron goes a long way (and, it has the reputation of being an aphrodisiac).



One of my all-time favorite spices is the ever-magical, oh-so versatile saffron.


A tried-and-true trick for drawing out the best flavor from saffron is to soak it in a few tablespoons of warm water or milk (think of it as a saffron tea) before adding it to the pot. This helps to unlock the spice’s flavor and disperse it throughout the dish. You can also add some of the saffron water to yogurt to infuse it with a flowery aroma and gorgeous butter yellow color.


Although saffron can certainly be the star of the show in its own right, I do enjoy mixing it with other spices. Use a mortar and pestle (or a rolling pin works just fine) to grind saffron, ginger, turmeric, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper together into a coarse powder and sprinkle away for a warming foundation of flavor for rice dishes, sauces or soups. The possibilities are endless.


If you’re looking to try out saffron for yourself, check out my recipe for Saffron Yogurt. It’s a fabulous way to experience the essence of the spice alongside the creaminess of the yogurt, crunch from the nuts and a little sweetness from the maple syrup and fruit. Enjoy!

Saffron Yogurt


  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, Greek or otherwise, full-fat or otherwise, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Nuts, chopped (any variety)
  • Fresh or frozen fruit


  1. Add saffron threads to warm water to bloom. Set aside.
  2. Combine the yogurt and maple syrup in a bowl, and beat vigorously with a fork or small whisk.
  3. Top with chopped nuts and fruit.


Born in India and raised in Atlanta, Chef Palak Patel grew up surrounded by traditional Indian cuisine. As her love of all things culinary expanded, she experimented with food, marrying the flavors of her native country with those of her adopted one. Her zest for travel further broadened her flavor palate as she globe-trotted, feasting on everything from local street food to la haute gastronomie. Palak shares these experiences as a TV personality, writer and one of the food industry’s newest and sassiest rising stars, gaining critical acclaim from victories in shows like Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network. Palak also battled it out against 24 other seasoned chefs in the Sears Chef’s Challenge, winning $20,000 for the Los Angeles Food Bank. Palak has been a guest on multiple Food Network shows, Marie Claire’s The Fix and Bravo’s Blood, Sweat and Heels. She has been featured in Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and India Abroad, and is a regular food and travel contributor to Table Magazine. Palak also has partnered with high-profile brands such as BMW and Barclays to curate menus for large events, HelloFresh as a guest chef and Mashable about creating a personal brand. Learn more, and contact us to book Chef Palak Patel.


Top photo: BigStock

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