|From the ancient,
historic fields of Kashmir
of the best saffron in the world comes from Kashmir,
where it has been grown in the fields of Pampore near Srinagar for close to 2000 years. (The name Pampore is derived from Padmapur meaning 'Lotus City'.)
centuries, saffron from these ancient fields has graced feasts
of emperors and commoners alike and satisfied the high standards
of herbal doctors. Historically, almost the entire saffron production of
Kashmir has been consumed by the domestic market, and only a small percentage
of this precious spice has been made available to the west and far east.
makes the saffron superlative
has geophysical, historical and cultural advantages which have made it
an excellent cultivation ground for the most expensive
spice in the world.
soil and climatic conditions are ideal.
The soil is light textured and alkaline. The climate is dry and cool with
bright sunshine in the summer months. These are important factors, since
the crocus sativus
plant needs efficient soil drainage. Too much rain can damage its delicate
stigma. Good sunshine ensures a higher quality crop with richer colouring
of the stigma.
Kashmir has been a natural
cultivation ground, where no special inputs have been necessary in terms
of soil additives, special environmental aids or expensive research.
this environment, the crocus sattivus plant develops all the luxuriance
for which it is naturally
and genetically blessed. The flavour and the aroma of the Kashmiri saffron
is full and rich.
of exposure to centuries of cultivation, the Kashmiris also know how to
harvest and treat the delicate crop, keeping its quality and value to the
optimum. Invariably it is the same family that harvests the crop, generation
after generation! The cumulative experience and knowledge of the farmers
is advantageous, since saffron is hand grown, hand picked, sorted and dried.
Since antiquity saffron has been grown
in the foothills of the Pir Panjar range
in northern Kashmir.
|The flourishing cultivation of many civilisations!
The fecund Kashmir Valley was part of the great Harappan and Indus Valley civilisation which flourished in 2nd millennium BC.
Sometime in its ancient history, the crocus sativus travelled to Kashmir from its native home in Persia, along the central asian route, brought by immigrants, marauding armies or merchant caravans.
Kashmir became the second place in the world to grow this orange-gold bounty of exceptional flavour, colour and fragrance.
By and by, the use of saffron spread from India to China most probably via the Mongols on the old trading route. In the west, colonising Turks and plundering Vikings carried it from Iran into Europe.