Area restaurants and home cooks who rely on Lake View–based Heray Spice for real-deal saffron from Afghanistan went through a bit of a withdrawal last fall. When the Taliban regained control of that country, they suspended flights to the United States, forcing Heray to reroute its goods through the Netherlands, which delayed shipments by more than two months. The saffron was worth the wait. Mohammad Salehi and his two partners grew up on Afghan farms. They started Heray five years ago to combat fake saffron (made of corn silk or safflower) and to give Afghan farmers an alternative to growing poppies. The company sells to restaurants including Maple & Ash and Parachute and recently began offering Afghan cumin and green tea. “Our hustle is to empower these farmers so that they can survive,” says Salehi. $15 a gram.
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