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Oct 5, 2013 06:09 PM

Saffron from Iran

I received some saffron from a friend who came back from Iran.
I have never seen saffron like this and am wondering if anyone has and why it is so different then the threads of saffron I have purchased.

Thx...great saffron recipes are very welcome!!!

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  1. I have no advice outside of the usuals, but I wish I had a friend bringing back saffron from Iran. it looks amazing - that color is so vivid.

    1. I'm surprised it wasn't confiscated by customs. Bringing anything from Iran into the U.S. is illegal I thought.

      16 Replies
        1. re: heylids

          I often see Iranian saffron here in Montréal. It is a darker red than Spanish saffron.

        2. re: robt5265

          Though the sanctions are extensive (and brutal), you can bring stuff from Iran to the US if it's not for commercial purposes. And given that we've been the beneficiary of tons of Iranian saffron over the years, I'd say that it's much rusty redder and much thicker than what you see here. And the smell is heavenly.

          1. re: robt5265

            Even for commercial trade, I believe some of the sanctions were eased a number of years back primarily for agricultural products, but I wasn't paying close attention. I do know that Iranian saffron has been openly displayed at Iranian markets for a number of years now. Before that, one saw it occasionally but usually "behind the counter" where it wasn't obvious unless you knew what you were looking for.

            1. re: MikeG

              It's like that at the Spice Market in Istanbul but I didn't get the impression that they were hiding it but rather it was expensive enough and small package so they kept it back.

              1. re: c oliver

                Well, in Istanbul, it wouldn't have been contraband. :) In the stores I'm thinking of, it wasn't simply being kept away from shoplifting hands, but basically tucked half out of sight, while Spanish and other saffrons would be obvious.

                1. re: MikeG

                  I was curious how that works. If I buy a banned product to take to the US am *I* then breaking the law or at least subject to Customs confiscation. Those vendors are also quite bold about selling 'alleged' Russian caviar. Out of curiosity I told one that I couldn't bring it into the US. He said that he could wrap it in such a way (vacuum sealed, no doubt) that it would be no problem. I passed.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    The caviar in Istanbul, the real stuff is usually Iranian, there is virtually almost no Russian left and what there is is unconsciously expensive. At the spice market there was a lot of pasteurized caviar, feh IMHO, regardless of origin.
                    l feel you were wise to pass.

                    With the exception of my wonderful urfa biber, which took me 11 stands to find a good one, l felt the spice market was very sleazy and was most uncomfortable there. Not as bad as Grand Bazaar though.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      I found one spice vendor who I liked and returned to on our second trip. He wasn't out their hawking his goods. Other than that I bought nothing else except some really cute ceramic bowls. I didn't bargain as I felt they were worth the asking price. Had I been staying in an apartment I might have bought some of the food products being sold on that outside aisle of the market. I spent about five minutes in the Grand Bazaar and that was about 4.5 minutes too long.

                      Thanks for the info about the caviar. I haven't eaten enough (dagnabbit!) to be knowledgeable enough.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        The market on the outside of the Spice Market was the best market in Turkey for me, no bargaining, and really good and unusual stuff.
                        We ate off that market very often.

                      2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        I have a jar of Romanoff Iranian Caspian beluga, but it's a bit old.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Veggo - break it out! well on a special night with just a few others, be ready to take a whiff and say "oh no thank you" but I'd bet, like a wine, a brief hour of 'breathing' might bring it around.

                          1. re: hill food

                            He's talking about something about 30 y.o. :(

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I'd still try it. go wait in the car.

                            2. re: hill food

                              It's 40 years old -Christmas 1973. I never had that right special occasion. I lead a dull life.

              2. I've heard that a lot of the saffron coming from Spain is actually artificially colored, low quality stuff. Don't know how true ithat is, but people I know who have used Iranian saffron say that it is markedly better and nothing can compare to it.

                1. The exec chef in a Manhattan resto, has been buying his spices from an Iranian for years. Besides the saffron, the fennel, cardamom, and coriander and others are awesome, he has been giving me bits for years and there is no comparison to what l had been using before.