The sumac plant is a floweringshrubor small treethat grows in subtropical regions and is found in abundance in Africa and North America. After flowering the fruits form in clusters of red drupes. These are called sumac bobs – it’s dried and ground to produce sumac spice.
The flavour of sumac is kind of tangy and I like using it with potato dishes and also fish. I often make a sumac seasoning that’s brilliant on wedges or with grilled chicken. It’s a lovely rich flavour that it lends to anything it’s added to.
Saffron is the dried stigma harvested from the Crocus Sativus flower which is native to Greece and Southwest Asia. Saffron is among the most expensive spices in the world and it’s not hard to believe as it takes the stigmas, which are hand picked,of 150 flowers to produce one gram of saffron. The stigmas are harvested before sunrise when the flowers are in full bloom. It has various medicinal properties and adds a special, savoury kind of flavour to food. Not to mention the amazing golden colour it awards to the food.
It’s popular to use saffron in rice dishes, seafood dishes, with chicken and meat. It can also be used in desserts or custards. It can be used dry as it is, but to extract that rich, golden colour, it can be steeped in a little hot water before added to the rest of the ingredients.
I prepared succulent chicken skewers with a combination of these two spices. The chicken had a lovely golden colour and a delicate savoury flavour. I roasted the skewers in a very hot oven, but they will be very nice done over hot coals or open fire.