saffron bouquetsYesterday I was taken to buy saffron by my wonderful friend, Maryam Abdallah, Qatar’s first TV chef and a wonderful cook and educator. On the way, she gave me a wonderful tip on how to make sure I am buying real saffron which I thought I would pass on. Now, you probably don’t need to know this if you are buying saffron pre-packed by the gram but you better know it if you are going to buy saffron in industrial quantities the way they do in the souk. It’s very simple. All you need to do is ask the vendor for 3 or 4 threads of saffron which you put on your tongue and suck on for a few seconds. You then spit the threads out onto a clean tissue and rub them inside the tissue. If they colour it yellow, you know you are buying real saffron. If they colour it red, you are being sold coloured threads that have nothing to do with saffron. I wish my friend who recently brought me tons of saffron from Morocco knew this because he would have avoided buying a whole lot of fake saffron with only a few real threads in between for the smell! The top picture is of how they sell saffron here in Qatar, bunched up in ‘bouquets’ of 10 grams and below is a picture of my test to make sure I was not being sold fake saffron!

saffron-testing if real copy


There is 18 comments on this post

  • I look forward to being around saffron in enough quantity to need to use the test! That’s a wonderful sight, a tub full of the stuff……

  • What a great tip! Do Qataris use saffron in such large quantities?

  • Great tip!! Sometimes they show you real ones but they pack the fake ones. Its better to do another test from the bunch one has bought to confirm you got the ‘real one’.

  • Do you have any must-try food tips for Doha? I will be there next week?

  • only what i have on my blog or in my instagram feed 🙂

  • What a nice trick and I’m sure that a lot of the “saffron” I buy here in Spain in packages isn’t what it claims to be. I won’t be fooled again.

  • Where did you exactly buy it in doha? Souq waqif? Can you please tell me the shop name or the exact shop. I stay in doha and need to buy the same. since i m new, i needed the exact location.

  • unfortunately i couldn’t tell you. was taken there by a friend…

  • Dear Anissa ,
    thanks for the info. I guess I have to try it out today. My friend bought 5 grams of saffron at Dubai market Dealer ,it cost USD 20. I hope it is genuine. I thought that Middle East it was an offence to sell fake products.
    Have a nice day
    Best Regards.

  • Dear all,

    I’m a Qatari lady, I have working in Saffron business. I have very fine, pure, and organic saffron. they didn’t use any chemicals or fertilizers or pesticides in grow it. I bought it directly from the farm source in Morocco.

    It will be my pleasure to send for a sample of my product, I insure that you will use a fine product, it’s rare in Qatari markets! you can contact me on +974-70116144

  • I Need to buy some original saffron from Qatar where can I get from Doha…?? I tried to call that mariyam number which she given in above comment. ..but it’s not working. ..this is my number +97430121279.please help me to get original saffron. ..Thank you….

  • i am afraid i don’t remember where the place is…

  • Dear Mariam,
    Your no. not reachable. would you mind providing more info. to buy.
    Thank you.

  • thanks for your good article.
    I lived in Iran and we harvest saffron.
    I know the best saffron is red one but saffron that you bought has yellow thread. yellow thread is named “Pooshal” and is not best quality of saffron and its price is very cheap.

    maybe i will travel to Dubai or Doha at end of December and i can bring you sample of saffron for test.

  • would be great except that i don’t live in either places 🙂

  • Great tips to identify the real Saffron. Thanks

  • I am Hannah, from Vietnam. I am interested in Saffron and would like to buy some saffron for sales in Vietnam market. If anyone have pure, organic saffron, please give me a message via email: hangnguyen.ws@gmail.com or text me directly via skype: hangnguyen.1216
    thank you all.

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