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The orange–red stigma of one species of the crocus plant, and the most expensive spice in the world. Each flower consists of three stigmas, which are hand–picked, then dried—a labour–intensive process. Its flavour is pungent and aromatic, and its colour intense, so only a little is used. It gives flavour and colour to such dishes as bouillabaisse, paella, risotto and pilaff, as well as saffron cake and buns. Saffron is sold in both powdered and thread form (the whole stigma). Beware—there is no such thing as cheap saffron. The best comes from Spain, Iran and Kashmir.