Saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world, was used by Indian queens a few thousand years ago to decorate their forehead with an image of sun, moon, crescent moon, or star. Saffron was ground into a paste along with ghee and used as kumkum, hence the name kumkum flower/ kunguma poo. This tradition of applying kumkum is still practiced by almost every Hindu woman, but saffron paste is replaced by kumkum powder made of turmeric.
Kumkum powder is mostly used by married women on the parting line of hair and also on the forehead. Lately every female, young or old, would like to stick an ornamental adhesive motif (bindi) on the forehead instead of kumkum.
Women in all walks of life, whether she is a minister, police officer, activist, CEO of a multinational company, actress, teacher, scientist, doctor, or a housewife, we all like to apply kumkum powder along the parting line of our hair, stick an adhesive bindi at the center of our forehead, wear a string of fresh fragrant flowers on our head and also a 5-meter long colorful silk saree during festivals, weddings, etc.
Generally saffron is used for both culinary & medicinal purposes. We use saffron as a food additive as it imparts a beautiful yellow color & delicious aroma when added into sweet and savory dishes, it is usually added into hot milk before adding into desserts, curries, or rice dishes like biryani or pulav to get the desired color.
Ayurveda recommends to take saffron latte (kesar milk/ kungumapoo paal) for skin lightening and also for glowing skin. So it is a common practice that pregnant women are encouraged to take saffron latte to improve the complexion of baby inside her womb even though such theory is entirely dismissed by gynecologists.
Since saffron is also useful to treat insomnia, it is suggested to take saffron latte in the nights after dinner. Now let’s prepare flavorful saffron milk (kesar milk) as below:
|Cow’s milk (or any plant based milk)||500 ml|
|Saffron strands||a pinch|
|Palm sugar (panang karkandu)||as needed|
|Pistachios (and/or almonds) for garnishing||as desired|
How to prepare saffron milk:
- Heat a sauce pan with milk in medium flame.
- When the milk begins to boil add a pinch of saffron strands.
- Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until saffron gets infused with milk.
- Add coarsely ground palm sugar into the milk.
- Stir in until sugar crystals are dissolved.
- Add powdered cardamom seeds into milk.
- Mix well and remove from heat.
- Garnish with slivered/ chopped pista/ badam before serving.
- Serve warm saffron latte after dinner.