larified butter or ghee is used extensively in India and other South Asian cuisines. Also, practically any Hindu religious ritual is incomplete without the use of ghee. It has a lovely rich and nutty flavor, and enhances the flavor and taste of anything that it is added to. Ghee, as the English version of its name 'clarified-butter' suggests, is prepared from butter. How is butter made? Well, from cream; and cream is made from milk. In this post, I pick it up from store-bought cream and make my own butter and then turn it magically into ghee! You can choose to pick up directly from butter or if you are a little more adventurous than me (like my mom is), then you might as well pick up from milk and gather your own cream. Back in India my mom always prepares Ghee from scratch. She used to collect the cream daily off the milk brought by the doodhwallahs/door-to-door milk vendors, until the container with cream was full and ready to be made into Ghee.
The process behind it is quite magical (scientific for those who understand how these things work chemically). As you churn it with a whisk, cream which otherwise is a runny liquid, changes to a frothy texture. This happens rather quickly, what we popularly know as whipped cream. Now if you be patient and keep at it, after enough whisking, the buttermilk separates from the cream and behold you have butter!
Ghee has a lot of benefits over butter. It has a high smoking point, so it does not burn while cooking. Also while clarifying the butter the solid milk proteins are removed. As a result it becomes lactose free – a more tolerable product for lactose intolerant people. It is rich in Vitamin A.
Ghee is also used sometimes as some home remedies in Indian homes. It is rich in anti-oxidants. It is also considered very pure and auspicious and used to light wick lamps and diyas during pujas and special occasions.
It is used in numerous Indian dishes. From dal and biryani to rotis and sweets and almost everything in between. Ghee is certainly a big staple of the our diet. It is an essential flavoring ingredient in most of Indian cooking due to its wonderful aroma and delicious flavor.
I rarely buy ghee from stores, always make my own. At first I used to make it with the unsalted grocery store butter - but was not completely satisfied - it was ok but not like the way mom makes it. But then I believe the grocery store butter is not perfect either (those of my readers who have ever tasted Amul butter would know what I mean). So lately I have been making my own butter. Don't you worry, it is much simpler than it sounds and results are amazing - shudh desi ghee and the butter tastes absolutely like Amul butter YUMMY YUM. Moreover you start with only one ingredient, the cream, and end up with possibly three different products, butter, ghee and buttermilk!
Most of us might not realize but the some kind of flavoring is sometimes used in preparation of ghee. I mostly do not use any flavoring but I have definitely played around with a few different kinds like methi leaves, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and even kasoori methi. You can use either of them to add a little extra flavor and that nutty pure smell in the ghee. Also I have found that if you add a little pinch of salt after it has cooled down, it makes the texture better or what is more popularly known as 'danedar' - but it is purely optional.
Ingredients: makes about 16 oz or 2 cups
Heavy cream .......................... 1 quart or 32 oz
Fenugreek seeds ............................ 4 - 6 seeds (optional)
Curry leaves ........................... 3 - 4 (optional)
Method: for butter
1. If you had it refrigerated the cream previously, leave it on the counter to allow it to get to room temperature.
2. Pour the cream in a large deep bowl (or preferably in a stand mixer or even a food processor)
3. Beat the cream on medium speed. First it will start to look like whipped cream then after continued beating, the butter will suddenly separate out leaving a runny liquid. It will take about 10 min.
4. The liquid left is called butter milk. Strain and reserve (this as it can be used in soups, sauces, cool drinks, kneading atta or even in baking). Properly strain all the extra water. Refrigerate for use as homemade butter or process immediately into ghee.
Method: for ghee
1. Place the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat.
2. Allow it to melt and come to a boil.
3. Once it starts boiling, reduce the flame to a low to medium-low. Add methi seeds and curry leaves (if using). First the boiling butter will foam to the top and then gradually the foam subsides and the milk solids settle at the bottom of the pan as the butter turns into a clear golden brown transparent liquid.
4. Keep stirring to make sure it does not burn at the bottom. This will take about 25-30 minutes - but its all worth the effort, you can take my word for it.
5. Once there is a golden brown layer milk solids at the bottom, turn off the flame. Do not stir. Allow to cool down.
6. Strain into a clean and dry airtight preferably a glass container.
8. Allow it to come down to room-temperature.Sit back and marvel at your creation with the added bonus of the fabulous aroma that fills your home. ENJOY!
1. Ghee at room temperature looks semi-solid, and melts when heated. Ghee does not need to be refrigerated, but you can store it in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.