When I moved from India to Albuquerque, I noticed a very large variety of cooking oils at the grocery store. I was excited to see ghee on the shelves, but I was highly disappointed at the prices. I could make this at a fraction of the cost.
Ghee, or clarified butter, originated in ancient India in the 1500s. With the domestication of cattle, consumption of butter began. The hot climate would spoil the butter, so clarifying it made its shelf life longer.
A usual morning in India looks like this: a milkman coming to your doorstep every day with fresh milk. The milk is placed on the gas to boil in an open rounded vessel. When the milk cools down, the thick cream on top is collected and placed in the fridge over the week. The rich cream is then cooked on a low flame until the milk solidifies and the fat is separated.
Story of Every Indian Child
Every Indian child has grown up with the duty and stress of watching the milk boil carefully and switching off the gas right before it overflows. Sometimes, the job was successful. Other times, the milk would spill all over. A stressed-out mother would rush to clean the spill. A famous superstition said that accidentally spilled milk brings home guests.
» » » » RELATED READ: Healthy Yogurt Drinks for Summer: Traditional Indian Recipes « « « «
Health Benefits of Ghee
Ghee has a high smoke point, so it’s ideal for cooking. Ghee is thought to have a lot of health benefits, such as:
- Being good for digestion
- Having all the fat soluble vitamins–A, D, E, and K
- Boosting immunity
- Aiding in hair growth
- Reducing inflammation
Remember that a small amount goes a long way. Ghee can be kept at room temperature, and it will not spoil. Indian cooking gets its rich flavor from fats like ghee or mustard oil.
Ways to Use Ghee in Your Daily Routine
- Ghee can be smeared on tortillas or naan bread for extra flavor and health benefits.
- Try using ghee to make popcorn instead of butter or oil.
- Adding a drizzle to any dish on top will impart a unique flavor.
- The secret to making the perfect basmati rice or any other rice is half a teaspoon of ghee while being cooked.
- Use ghee to make any kind of eggs.
- Avoid baking with it as it has a unique flavor and doesn’t go well with baked goods.
- Sauté or oven roast any protein or vegetables in ghee.
- Drizzle some ghee in your soups. It teams great with lentil-based soups as well.
- Grilled cheese in a little ghee tastes delicious.
- Ghee is often used in shallow frying stuffed bread or paranthas–a popular Indian breakfast.
- If you want to elevate the taste of your Indian food from the restaurant, you can drizzle some ghee on top.
- Personally, my mother used warm ghee to oil my hair. As a child, I had thick, shiny, and healthy hair growing to my knees.
- It works as a great lip balm for adults and children.
Ghee is considered sacred and pure. It is extensively used in prayers and rituals. We also us it make homemade lamps called diyas to offer our prayers.
How to Make Ghee
You will need:
- Unsalted butter sticks
- A deep stainless steel utensil
- A steel ladle with holes (a spoon or sieve will do if you don’t have one)
- Place your dry utensil on a low flame.
- Slowly melt 2-3 full butter sticks one at a time.
- Wait for a white froth to come on top of the butter.
- Sieve out the froth and discard it in the trash.
- Carefully pour in a steel or glass canister.
These steps are important as working with hot oil can be risky.
- Do not use a high flame as it will burn the butter instantly.
- Do NOT make ghee when kids are around you. I highly recommend doing this when kids are sleeping or not at home.
- This needs constant care. Avoid stepping away or doing other things simultaneously.
- Do not melt butter and leave halfway–the butter can burst or explode and leave a horrible mess in the kitchen (personal experience).
- Do not make a large batch. Start with one butter stick and go up to three sticks.
- You need to stir the butter occasionally, so it doesn’t burn.
- Use a steel stirrer. Avoid using any other kind.
- Only pour out the ghee in a glass or a stainless steel container with a lid.
- You can put the ghee in the fridge if you happen to go out for a vacation and put it out somewhere once you are back.
- It is in solid form, so take a small portion to cook. It becomes larger in quantity when it melts.
- Avoid making ghee in the microwave.
- Too much consumption of ghee can impact heart health as it is rich in saturated fat and can lead to clogged arteries. It is important to remember to not go overboard with it as it is very high in calories.
Ghee is the simplest thing to make and will not take more than 10 minutes of your time. I hope you all enjoy cooking with ghee and creating new dishes–and now you can pass by the overpriced bottle of ghee and make your own instead.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.