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Saffron for decades the world's most expensive spice by weight is native to Southwest Asia. Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. A C. sativus flower bears three stigmas. Together with their styles stigmas are dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent. Saffron is marked by a bitter taste and an iodoform or hay like fragrance. A carotenoid dye crocin allows saffron to impart a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles. Saffron has further medicinal applications. Saffron has also been used as a fabric dye particularly in China and India and in perfumery.
Saffron's aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and somewhat bitter. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods. Saffron is widely used in Iranian (Persian) Arab Central Asian European Indian Turkish and Cornish cuisines. Confectionaries and liquors also often include saffron.
Medicinally saffron has a long history as part of traditional healing. Modern medicine has also discovered saffron as having anticarcinogenic (cancer-suppressing) " anti-mutagenic (mutation-preventing) immunomodulating and antioxidant-like properties. Early studies show that saffron may protect the eyes from the direct effects of bright light and retinal stress apart from slowing down macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron