It may be true that Iran’s South Khorasan provice produces 21% of the world’s saffron, but its aphrodisiac affects seem not to have impacted the modern Iranian culture.
I remember being totally smitten with a young Persian (his word, not mine) man in my college years. Thankfully, I pushed back when this wealthy young Iranian fantasized about marrying me, teasing my mind with visions of a lush and exotic life, halfway around the world.
The night he told me he intended to speak to my parents, I intervened with a definitive ‘no’, for fear they would gladly agree and send me packing. I was too young, and he was too short. But boy was he handsome!
Hopefully, my friend was lucky enough to eventually land in London and not finding himself tortured, living a dark prison in some unknown corner of the country — or worse. My friend’s family was closely aligned with the Shah of Iran, a bad alliance by 1979.
Today, I will order most anything on a restaurant menu, if it’s seasoned with saffron. My favorite saffron risotto is too heavy for a blog devoted to seduction. Lighter is better . .. and I suggest:
Spicy Courgettes with Saffron Risotto
Just to affirm last week’s post, I’m trying to eat nothing but aphrodisiacs these days. This may be the simplest way to eat healthy and stay sexy well into my old age.
Personally, I think almost any dish coming out of the Mediterranean is laced with aphrodisiac properties, but — for the record — in this recipe, we have olive oil, the elixir of life that’s teaming with cardiovascular benefits; onions - mentioned in classic Hindu texts on the art of making love and also commonly used as an aphrodisiac in ancient Greece; plum tomatoes and large red chili; and basil, of course. A quick Google search comes up affirmative for courgettes as well.
It’s safe to say that rice isn’t an aphrodisiac; it’s what sensual cooks add to it, that makes it — and us — sing with pleasure. Our spicy courgettes with saffron is a healthy, aphrodisiac powerhouse that satisfies our risotto tooth without putting us asleep before the main course.
The Milanese chefs would not approve of this lightened-up recipe, but your lover will.
Saffron from Kashmir
India has banned the export of high-grade saffron to the West, leaving us to only dream about the full effect of its aphrodisiac properties. The world’s best saffron is treasured for its distinctive long, flat, silky threads with a dark red color and extraordinary aroma.
Tantra from Anne
This saffron discussion is actually a bit of a ruse for you, a leadup to a discussion on tantric sex, which is my new passion in life.
Saffron has a long tradition in Hindu religion and is widely used in ancient sexual practices involving tantra, an essentially feminine discipline that fuses sexuality and spirituality together.
Sexual guilt is NOT known in tantra. In an even more interesting development for me this week, I read Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s book “The Kosher Sutra: 8 Sacred Secrets for Reigniting Desire and Restoring Passion for Life”.
Besides being fascinated with Rabbi Boteach’s pro-women arguments around sexuality, I absorbed his comparison of tantra and Judaism’s Kabbalah (yes, think Madonna.) with a certain degree of wonderment.
Let me rephrase my ‘passion in life’ statement about tantra, so as not to suggest that I spend entire days engaging in tantric sex. I mean to say that I am now very enthused about understanding tantric sex and learning this ancient art of intimacy and connection.
Trying to build a stronger connection for us, between saffron and tantra, I stumble onto another amazing possibility.
Saffron, Depression the Libido Killer
Googling saffron+tantric sex, I am astounded to find tidbits about the effectiveness of saffron in treating depression in women. Skimming over several sources, I found a study quoted in Eating Well magazine:
Recently, Shahin Akhondzadeh, Ph.D., and his colleagues gave 50 women with PMS two (15 mg) saffron capsules or placebo capsules daily over two menstrual cycles, keeping track of their symptoms in diaries. By the end of the study, over three-quarters of the women who had taken the equivalent of a micropinch of saffron reported that their PMS symptoms (such as mood swings and depression) declined by at least half, compared with only 8 percent of women in the placebo group.
In fact, saffron has long been used in traditional Persian medicine as a mood lifter, usually steeped into a medicinal tea or used to prepare rice, says Akhondzadeh. In previous studies, he found saffron had antidepressant effects comparable to the antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and imipramine (Tofranil); he posits that the spice works by “the same mechanism as Prozac,” helping to make the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin more available to the brain.
With depression being a major libido killer among women — and anti-depressants even worse on our sexual desire — I will pursue further this new information about saffron as a mood-lifter and treatment for depression.
The first thing that comes to mind is buying saffron-scented candles to improve our mindsets and perhaps ignite a bit of lust in our hearts. Voila! From Pierre Deux, we have Anduze Scented Candles, Saffron/Lavender and Lime.
Sorry for the diversion. It’s my worst trait and the Internet makes it even worse. Anne is a global wanderer and I’m always trying to connect the dots.
A Quick Stop Back in the Kitchen
Eating Well gives us a group of saffron-flavored recipes including this one for Spicy Yogurt Chicken:
2 tablespoons hot water
2 pinches saffron threads (1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
1 onion, very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons harissa or 2 teaspoons hot sauce or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
This recipe is also rich in additional aphrodisiacs like cinnamon, hot sauce and garlic. I’m wondering what spices aren’t aphrodisiacs. I’m beginning to feel that — bottom line — fresh, colorful food that’s well-seasoned jumpstarts our libidos.
Heavy, white food kills sexual desire — and us, too, in time. Something tells me that this aphrodisiac journey won’t be too complicated in the end.
Tantric Sex for You
Alright, now I’m not being clever here. I’m dead serious about this tantric sex business. I’d love it if you read my entire post on Sexy Futures: Tantra: The Last Frontier for Finding Real Intimacy in America’s Paradise Lost.
But, if you haven’t the time or inclination, let me send you directly to FOX News SEXPERT Dr. Yvonne Fulbright’s How to Unleash Your Supernatural Sexual Self.
Even though saffron is expensive, I think it belongs in our lives.
Out with all the white stuff (well most of it; I’ll develop an exception list) and in with fresh color. Think about it. Just eat color for a sexy new you. What if it’s that simple? I’ll bet it a firm step in the right direction.
Much love, Anne