Ghee (I love this word). Unctuous, smooth, lubricating……..like many things in India, Ghee is spoken of in many superlatives.
In India it is said that milk is the sap of all plants and ghee is the essence of milk. Ghee has been used throughout India’s history to cook with and treat ailments. It has been used as a versatile cure, ranging from treating wounds, burns even ghee massages. Ghee gives many of the myriad of Indian curries and sweets a unmistakable richness and shine.
It is said to have the power to improve memory, digestion, intelligence and builds the aura. It may also help the body to purge toxins, as part of the Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatments.
All this from what we rather less romantically call, clarified butter.
If you go to see an Ayurvedic doctor, ghee is normally mentioned, poured over your skin or in your mouth. It’s a little like in Spain, where doctors prescribe ham. Just ask my lovely pal Ang, who was told that being a vegetarian, she needed more ham in her diet! Although, I’m not sure of the benefits of wafer thin ham.
Ghee does have some proven health benefits (see the foodie fact), but its primary purpose for existing, in my eyes, is deliciousness. It adds yum to all it touches.
Making ghee is straightforward, it’s not so easily sourced in the UK and can be a little on the expensive side, so homemade is best.
It keeps for months in the fridge in a clean jar (soaked in boiling water). In India, aged ghee is highly valued, sometimes kept in temples for over a 100 years!
One block of butter will make around half a jar.
One block of good quality lightly salted (or to your taste) block of butter.
Get a nice thick bottomed pan on a medium heat, put the butter in.
When it begins to foam, lowere the heat and cook for around ten minutes. The butter will separate and leave a white foam on top. It should take on a light brown colour (not too brown).
Take the pan off the heat and let it cool.
In a nice clean jar, pour the ghee through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Allow it to cool fully and place in the fridge. That’s it!
Milk Solids Recipe
The left over milk solids will be very salty (if you used salted butter), but are very tasty. They can be used in a traditional rice dish, normally served at weddings, called butter pot rice.
Just add garlic and thinly sliced onion to the pan, fry until soft, add a handful of peppercorns and a few curry leaves. Stir your rice in and coat with the ghee, then add water (cold, one to two fingers above the rice), cover tightly and leave on a low heat for 30 minutes. We used brown rice, which needs slightly less water.
For more recipes see this lovely veggie website:
We Love It
It sits in the fridge nicely and when unleashed on food, adds so much shine and richness. It really is nectar. As part of the fabled ‘balanced diet’ it is truly a wonder food. The milk solids are a fantastic bonus.
Ghee also takes us back to many wonderful memories of magic India, normally soaked up on a warm chapatis.
Ghee burns at a high temperature, meaning it doesn’t release too many dangerous free radicals (please note: never fry with olive oil that has not been cold pressed, for this reason). Ghee contains vitamins and essential fatty acids. If the ghee is completely separated from the milk solids, it does not contain lactose and people who are lactose intolerant can join the party!