Heray Spice is a local business based in Chicago, Illinois with a social mission to help farmers with better wages while helping chefs with the freshest and highest quality spices from Afghanistan. At Heray Spice, they empower Afghanistan farmers by promoting fair trade practices and sustainable agriculture, while providing the highest quality spices to customers.
Q. What is your passion? Tell us about it.
A. Love for Culinary Arts: The passion for exploring and sharing unique flavors and culinary experiences can drive someone to start a spice business. The desire to create and offer high-quality spices that enhance the taste and aroma of dishes can be a motivating factor. Cultural Heritage and Tradition: Starting a spice business like Heray Spice could be driven by a deep connection to one's cultural heritage and a desire to preserve and share the culinary traditions of a specific region or country.
An elevated Persian dining experience, Joon opened this week in Tysons. The concept combines “contemporary Western elements with classic Iranian roots,” according to a press release.
The team, led by chef Najmieh Batmanglij, chef Christopher Morgan, and co-founder Reza Farahani, hopes to put “Iran’s rich culture and cuisine in the spotlight,” according to the press release. Batmanglij has worked for decades adapting Persian dishes to Western techniques and flavors. “Joon,” which means “life” in Persian, is also the name of one of Batmanglij’s numerous cookbooks. Maydān in DC received a Michelin star while Morgan was chef there.
Joon sources produce locally from Moon Valley Farm in Maryland, and spices are sourced from Heray Spice, a Chicago-based company with a mission to help farmers achieve better wages, while also helping chefs source fresh and high-quality Afghani spices.
Saffron is big business for Heray Spice, a farmer-owned co-op sourcing most of its single-origin ingredients in Afghanistan. As the company continues growth, its founders are finding fresh and innovative ways of developing new products, from saffron oil and saffron liquid to upcycling the flower’s typically unused parts.
Audarshia Townsend | Apr 25, 2023
In Afghanistan, saffron is respectfully called “Queen of the Spices” or “Red Gold.” That’s because it’s almost as expensive as gold, said Mohammad Salehi, CEO/co-founder of Heray Spice. “It’s very valuable, which is why it’s given that title.”
Saffron and other single-origin spices sourced by companies like Heray, POKS Spices, Spice Suite, Burlap & Barrel and even McCormick remain hot global topics as consumers continue to educate themselves about traceable supply chains. From learning more about sustainable measures and ethical labor practices to human-interest stories about the growers, there’s so much to consider.
The world’s most expensive spice is many things: an irreplaceable staple of various cuisines, the focal point of a multibillion-dollar industry, a hot topic in the realm of geopolitics, a victim of fraudulent trading. But it’s also an ingredient that’s been used in everyday cooking for as long as it’s been cultivated. There is, in other words, a lot to say about saffron, so let’s get started.
What is saffron?
Saffron comes from the stigmas of the purple Crocus sativus flower, also known as the saffron crocus because of its prized crimson threads. The trumpet-shaped stigmas are long and deep red, and typically have orange and yellow hues near their base. The saffron crocus typically appears six to eight weeks after planting, and produces up to three stigmas once it blooms.
Where does saffron grow?
The majority of saffron production takes place in warm Mediterranean and semiarid climates, spanning from Spain to Kashmir. Other major producers include Afghanistan, Morocco, and Greece. There are also micro producers loosely scattered around the United States, such as Cyprus Saffron in central Washington and Calabash Gardens in Vermont; the Pennsylvania Dutch even have a long-held tradition of cultivating saffron in their communities. But regardless of attempts to diversify the global saffron market, the world’s leading producer is indisputably Iran, which controls about 85 percent of the entire industry, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association.
Reset with Sasha-Ann Simons20 min
Food Friday: Delicious Bites For Persian New Year
Around 300 million people celebrate the holiday around the world, and they eat some delicious foods as part of the process.
Persians celebrate new life and good luck in the year ahead by deep cleaning their homes.
Reset learns how Chicago’s Persian community is celebrating the holiday this year.
GUESTS:Sheila Kohanteb, UChicago’s Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts and the Harris School of Public Policy
Mohammad Salehi, founder of Heray Spice
On February 24th, 2023, our CEO and Co-owner Mohammad Salehi appeared on WGN TV Midday News Lunchbreak to showcase our delicious saffron rice pudding recipe. The segment featured a step-by-step demonstration of how to prepare the dish, as well as tips on how to use saffron and other ingredients to enhance its flavor. The hosts also had the opportunity to sample the dessert and share their thoughts on the taste and presentation. Overall, the segment was a great success, leaving viewers with amazed and more interested in recipe and a better understanding of how to incorporate saffron into their cooking.