Saturday, July 24, 2010

An Introduction to Ghee a.k.a. Clarified Butter

"Ghee" has been used in Indian cooking for a long time. My fondest "edible" memories from my childhood all revolve around ghee. The aroma of freshly made ghee is ethereal and no store bought ghee really does justice to any recipe when compared to homemade ghee. Also, given the URL of my blog, it only seems fair to begin with a recipe to make ghee. There is nothing to it really. Besides some patience, all you will need is good quality butter made from cream with no other additives.

Ghee is used to sauté spices before adding pulses such as lentils to make dal, the classic Indian version of a lentil like soup. In my recipes, I also use ghee to sputter cumin seeds to add to a traditional "raita" which is a yogurt based salad. Ghee is also spread over freshly made "rotis" or other Indian breads.

I start with one stick of butter that has been chopped into smaller pieces. I place these in a stainless steel pan and set the heat to a low to medium setting as the butter melts. Once the butter has fully melted, I change the setting to low until the butter clarifies and takes a golden - brown color. I like my ghee this way, and nothing beats this ghee when eaten with fresh "phulkas" (puffed Indian bread made with unleavened dough) and "jaggery" (a solid form of sugar formed by evaporating sugarcane juice). Once the browning is noticeable, turn off the heat and allow the pan to cool. Transfer the ghee to a steel or glass jar for storage. I store ghee at room temperature in the pantry. Also, I do not like to make large portions of ghee, I prefer to make it on an as need bases. Ghee retains its freshness for up to a month (as per my observations). Below is a picture of the butter turned into ghee when it is almost done. Enjoy!

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