From left: Dr Aman Puri, Shri Navin Choudhary and Kamal Vachani seen during the launch of Kashmiri saffron at the Al Maya Supermarket store in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

In May this year, Kashmiri saffron was given a Geographical Indication tag by the Government of India and Al Maya Group is proud to bring Kashmiri Saffron, for the first time (since it obtained the GI tag) to the UAE through the group’s supermarkets, says Kamal Vachani, Group Director of the brand.

India’s GI tagged Kashmiri saffron, which is the sweetest and most precious spice in the world, was inaugurated by Shri Navin Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary (Agriculture & Allied Sectors), Government of Jammu & Kashmir, and Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India to Dubai & Northern Emirates, along with other dignitaries from Jammu & Kashmir who visited the UAE for the two-day UAE-India Food Security Summit 2020 on December 8-9, 2020.

Vachani says, “We are super excited to bring India’s saffron to the UAE, and it is more important to mention that we are delighted to introduce this at Al Maya Supermarkets across the UAE.”

India and the UAE have a strong bond of connection, and this decades-old bilateral relationship is flying high tremendously, with leaders of both nations visiting each other from time to time. Additionally, a large number of top government officials and prominent business delegates also meet frequently for bilateral cooperation in numerous fields.

Kashmir saffron is renowned globally for its antioxidants properties and is also used in cosmetics. The unique characteristics of Kashmir saffron are its longer and thicker stigmas, natural deep-red colour, high aroma and chemical-free processing. It is the only saffron in the world grown at an altitude of 1,600 m to 1,800 m AMSL (above mean sea level), differentiating it from other saffron varieties globally.

“India’s saffron will be a great addition to our large portfolio of Indian products, and it will be in high demand among chefs to use it in premium-priced dishes,” says Vachani.

In the Indian subcontinent, saffron has many names: Zafran in Urdu, Kesar in Hindi, Kong Posh in Kashmiri, and Kungumapoo in Tamil. Growing saffron requires a lot of work, that is why it is one of the costliest spices in the world. The stigmas, which are handpicked and obtained from 200 to 500 flowers equals just a single gram of saffron. And usually there are only three stigmas in a flower.

Al Maya Group, the UAE-based business conglomerate, has more than 50 supermarkets in the GCC, in addition to other businesses.