Kesar or Saffron has always been considered to have antibacterial properties. It has been used since the time immemorial and is used as of today. Saffron is not only used in topical treatments but also in variety of dishes to impart color, flavor and health. As per the Greek mythology, mortal crocus fell in love with beautiful nymph Smilax. However, sadly, his kindness was a rejection by Smilax, which turned him into a handsome purple crocus flower. The history of saffron usage and cultivation can be traced from over 3000 years and through the spans many continents, cultures, and civilizations.
There are many conflicts existing to describe saffron’s first appearance in South and East Asia. Many experts suggest that saffron was introduced to India by the Persian rulers. Another theory states that after conquer of Kashmir by the ancient Persia, Persian saffron crocus corns were grown into Kashmir soil. The first harvest of saffron occurred prior to 500 B.C.
Mula-Sarasvativadin monastic order, gives another story of arrival of Kesar to India. Madhyantika, anarhat Indian Buddhist Missionary was sent in the 5th century to Kashmir, and there he supposedly planted Kashmir’s first saffron crop.
Apart from various stories and legends claiming to have brought saffron to India, we have been enjoying this wonderful ingredient in variety of dishes. Mothers put saffron in milk to add flavor, and it also used in making kesar kheer, kesar barfi, kesar doodh and other traditional sweets. Indian tradition accounts for sweet distribution among friends and families during festivals like Diwali and rakhi. Kesar is widely used all around the country in variety of dishes.
Sometimes it is also used to add color in dishes. Kesar imparts a pale yellow color to foods and acts as a natural color additive. During rakhi, diwali and other festivals like Navaratri, it is used in good quantities to make sweets and other dishes. It is one of the most-used flavors in dishes because it adds to the quality of sweets and imparts some antibacterial properties to it. Some people as well use kesar in facepacks to add glow and freshness to their complexion.