-“Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past.” Old Dutch proverb
A staple in most Indian homes, ghee is one of the most controversial and misunderstood foods in this generation. Ghee, clarified butter is the ‘liquid gold’ you get when you separate the milk solids and water from the good fats by melting (or churning) unsalted butter (or makkhan).
When I first married my husband I remember him telling me how he couldn’t start the smell of ghee and requested me never to cook with it. Having scoffed at it myself as a child when my mom would make it, I obliged and agreed only to use it for religious purposes (lighting a diya). Fast forward a few years later when our Little Mirchi started eating solids and I wanted to introduce her to the healthiest food options available, one of the first things that popped up was to cook with homemade ghee. I knew the benefits, as did my husband, Ayurvedic doctors knew what they were talking about from centuries ago. My husband’s biggest concern was the ‘smell’ cooking with ghee left behind. He thought it was too strong and would linger in the house for days. It’s true that in some homes ghee is finished with a tarka (tempering of oil & spices) to preserve it and sometimes ghee if stored for too long in plastic bottles starts to give off a strong stench. My Mom convinced us that as long as we used the best quality butter and stored it airtight glass bottles; there would be no strong smell. And so the day came when ghee made its way into our kitchen.
The benefits of ghee are endless but these are some of the big ones that convinced me to start cooking with it.
– Ghee’s smoke point is much higher (500°F) than that of many oils, making it perfect for the sautéing, braiding, browning and frying done in Indian cooking.
– For centuries Ghee has been known to help memory functions, ulcers, digestion, burn wounds, and even aid in blood circulation.
– Ghee contains Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids along with vitamins A, D, E and K.
– Butyric acid (found in Ghee) boosts immunity and believed to inhibit cancerous tumor growth.
In our kitchen I cook with a variety of cooking oils & ghee. When I’m cooking specifically for my daughter (eggs, French toast, dosas, sautéed vegetables, etc) I always opt for ghee. There are often times I sneak a small spoon into my daals or kebabs for a rich nutty flavor and the husband doesn’t even notice (shhhh).
1 pound unsalted butter (preferably organic)
Place butter in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter until it starts to bubble. At this point the butter will go through a few stages in a quick amount of time – be sure to keep a close eye on it. The bubbling butter will go from a cream to light yellow and foam as the water and milk fats are separating. The bubbles will start to clear up and the color will start turning a deeper yellow. A darker foam will soon start to appear and the milk solids will start sinking to the bottom while turning a deep amber color. Once they are separated remove from heat immediately. Gently pour into heatproof airtight container through fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Once it’s cooled completely, the ghee will be opaque and smooth. Ghee is best kept stored in an airtight container for up to one month or in a refrigerator for up to three months.