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Pampore meadows attract tourists from everywhere to witness the yellow, marron, and purple hues of the blossoms that bloom beside giant chinars and harvest time resembles a festival for villages in the area. On the first day of the harvest, saffron farmers head to the shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Sharif-ud-Din in Namblabal Pampore to offer some saffron.
These fragrant red strands have even featured in the poems and songs of the 16th-century poet Habba Khatoon. Known as the Nightingale of Kashmir, Khatoon hailed from Pampore.
This spice is known by various names in India, including zafran in Urdu, kesar in Hindi, kong posh in Kashmiri, and kungumapoo in Tamil. Saffron is used in different ways. There's kahwa - the green tea laced with saffron from Kashmir. Beloved by many, it will make you fall in love with it at one sip. With spices like cardamom and cinnamon, this elixir is slowly brewed in a copper samovar. It is then served with a touch of honey and often garnished with almonds. It is also an important part of wazwan, the lavish Kashmiri supper platter.
Saffron is used in cooking, but it also offers many health advantages. The oil from which safranal is produced reduces growth in cancer cells and functions as an anticonvulsant and antidepressant. The carotenoid alfa-crocin also has a similar effect. Minerals are also abundant in it, including potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, selenium, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Additionally, it is high in folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamins A and C.
Every year, the government of Jammu and Kashmir organises a three-day Saffron Festival with cultural events. Held from the last week of October, it gives tourists a chance to see saffron fields and buy the spice directly from producers.
Kashmiri saffron was given a geographical indication tag by the geographical indications registry. The request was filed by the Directorate of Agriculture, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, and facilitated by the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Kashmir, and Saffron Research Station, Dussu (Pampore) with the aim to make it illegal for someone outside the valley to make and sell a similar product under the “Kashmiri saffron” name.