Is dried safflower actually used in Turkish Food?

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Is dried safflower actually used in Turkish Food?

Postby flitcraft » Sun Jul 16, 2006 2:53 am

The orange-reddish "saffron" sold in packets in Turkey is not saffron at all but dried safflower. It doesn't smell anything like saffron--it's faintly herbaceous or medicinal; but it will color food yellow if used in sufficient quantity.

Here's my question. Is it purely sold as a scam to unsuspecting tourists or is it used for anything in Turkish food? I'd really like to know because my lovely niece Banu brought me a large packet of it back from Turkey thinking it was saffron. I've played around with it in cooking a bit, but I'd like to know if it is really used in any authentic Turkish food, and if so, what. TIA...

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Postby sinan » Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:46 pm

I am so sad that some of people cheating tourist about this safron. This is not good but you can not control these type of cheating.

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Postby papillon » Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:48 pm

My friends just bought some Saffron before they went back to the US. They bought it from a spice market--it wasn't pre looked and smelled like actual saffron to me, but what do I really know :shock:

There are two types of "saffron" in turkey..."Indian Saffron" and "Turkish Saffron" they aren't the same color and both can be purchased pre packed or in the spice markets. It *is* dirt cheap so maybe it wasn't really saffron.....? The man we spoke with said no Turkish dishes contain it.

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Postby papillon » Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:50 pm

The turkish saffron is orange/reddish...

So perhaps the "Indian Saffron" is it had a nice golden yellow hue?

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Postby flitcraft » Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:33 am

Nope, the "Indian saffron" sold in Turkish markets is actually turmeric. Pretty and very deep yellow, tasty in its own way, but not saffron.

True saffron is dark reddish and comes as long tangled threads. What is sold as "saffron" is orange-red, shorter in length than true saffron, and often contains a few dried flower heads. (That's a tip-off that it isn't a variety of saffron--saffron is the stamens of a particular kind of crocus, so you would never find a complete dried blossom. Safflowers, on the other hand, do have a pom-pom type of head.)

I've done a little more research and found that some herbalists use safflowers and they are sometimes used to dye cloth. I still think they may have some culinary use (Syrian food? Armenian? Georgian? Balkan?) But I haven't found anything definite yet.

Incidentally, price is another tip off. Since saffron has to be picked manually one flower at a time, it's expensive even in countries where the labor is cheap (like Iran, for example).

I'll post any recipes I come across...

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Postby Jeanne » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:25 pm

Hi all,

there is a dish which uses saffron called 'Zerde', it is a dessert, a watery sort of ricepudding with raisins and pine kerns. The saffron is only used as a color.

In Turkey you can find a very good quality saffron imported from Iran, but still a good value and a very very good quality. Unfortuantly I have not been able to find this one recently maybe due to political events.
I have found now Spanish saffron, but it does not taste as good as the Iranean.

Indian saffron is also called a poor mans saffron.
It is used for instance in Indian lemon rice to give it a beautiful color. And it is also what gives the yellow color in a mixed curry powder.

A very good way to get the best taste out of saffron is to first roast it a bit in a dry hot pan, then grain it and pour hot water over it, this give a very good result!

Good appetite!

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another clue

Postby kanewai » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:13 am

Another clue is that saffron loses it's flavor when exposed to air - you would never, ever find saffron in a big open bin!

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Re: Is dried safflower actually used in Turkish Food?

Postby zcrown99 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:03 pm

I've been doing some research on this lately and found some interesting facts about the saffron scams. It's sad that they are switching these two spices on unsuspecting buyers. Here's the latest:

"Organised crime gangs have abandoned drugs and are now smuggling saffron across borders in parts of the world as illegal trade of the spice has become more lucrative than gold.

A widening gap in prices of the commodity between countries has fuelled a rise in criminals turning to the seasoning as an easy way to make money."

You can read more of this article at: ... k-profits/

Doesn't have much to do with switching safflower and saffron, but it DOES delve a little in the recent trends of organized spice smuggling which is still running rampant.

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