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Named after the 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi Spice partners with rural Afghan farmers to bring top-quality, sustainably-farmed saffron to customers around the world. Started by a team of US military veterans who served in Afghanistan, Rumi Spice sources crocus flowers, from which saffron is derived, from local Afghan farms and employs more than 300 women in Herat, Afghanistan to hand-harvest the delicate crimson stigmas of the flowers. Committed to empowering Afghan women and bolstering the country’s economy, Rumi Spice also reinvests their profits back into agricultural and manufacturing infrastructure for farmers.
Among the most prized spices in the world, saffron has a complex flavor that’s both semi-sweet and slightly bitter. Also known as “red gold,” saffron comes from the interior of the amethyst-colored saffron crocus—and must be hand-harvested due to its fragility. The flowers are taken from the field in the early morning as soon as they open and are transported to a farmhouse where the stigmas (attached to the crocus by yellow filaments called styles) are hand-separated from the blossoms. Each crocus produces just three stigmas; since it takes 450,000 stigmas to make a kilogram of saffron, the workers must process 150,000 blossoms to produce that amount. Herat’s arid climate and dry winds make for an ideal environment to grow saffron, contributing to the high quality of Rumi’s saffron and helping to solidify its reputation as one of the best saffron providers in the world.
In this dish, the aroma of Rumi Spice’s saffron-spiced potatoes complements the earthiness of cumin and the sweetness of glazed carrots, all served with a rich, buttery salmon. Letting the saffron soak—or “bloom”—in the lemon juice for at least 5 minutes ensures its gorgeous color and bold flavor. When cooking with saffron, a little goes a long way—a pinch is all you need!