OMG the Food: The Basics – Makhani and Desi Ghee

Good morning everyone,

Ghee.  Oh the controversies.  Let’s be right up front with the fact that many people (who are not medical doctors or nutrition experts) claim that ghee has a multitude of health benefits.  Others claim that it is, like many other fats, harmful.  We are not going to enter into the debate because, neither of us is a nutrition expert.  You can start your reading here, if you like:

Ghee Benefits article in Huffington Post
Ghee article in the Mail Online India
Article on Ghee published on the U.S. National Institute of Health website

What I know is this.  My diet, vaishno, does not have a lot of sources of dietary fat.  Dietary fats are important for your organs, including your heart, liver and skin.  Some body fat is required for the proper functioning of your body and for women, for the proper functioning of our reproductive system.  Ghee is a primary source (though not the only source) of that dietary fat.  Also, there are only tiny amounts of lactose left in ghee, so it is a form of butter that a few friends, who are lactose intolerant, have found that they are able to use.

But you should not eat too much of it.  Like all things, be moderate in its use.  Too much ghee will make you sick.  Too little dietary fat will make you sick.  Get it?  Moderation is all things is not just a saying we use.  It’s good advice.  At home, with our family in Panjab, where it’s all about the ghee, we are still moderate in our use of the fat.

I am nowhere near an expert.  I’m just a cook who is dealing with lupus and a vaishno diet and someone who has found what works for me.  But you are not me, we’re both unique individuals.  If you are concerned about ghee, do some reading, talk to your nutritionist or doctor about it, and make your own decision.  I’m just really here to tell you how to make it, so that you can enjoy the other Indian and fusion recipes that get posted here and elsewhere.

There are other, non-dietary uses for ghee as well.  I have very dry hair that is covered in a cotton turban most of the day.  The cotton tends to make my already dry hair drier.  As a Sikh, I will not cut the hair to keep away the split ends that come with dryness.  So I use hair oils.  When I need intensive condition I break out the ghee.  I do the same at the odd times that my skin needs some conditioning.  More on that below.

You can buy ghee in most large grocery stores in Canada.  However, it is hit and miss here where we live, in the cold, cold North (it’s very windy today so I’m not really up for talking about the beauty and splendor of this place – it’s cold, that’s it for today).  At home in India, our mom makes it from milk and we call that Desi ghee.  You’re going to get both methods today along with the method for making mahkani (or butter) for the Desi ghee.  Desi ghee is really only something you would make in Canada if you are also making homemade curd and paneer, as it is made from the cream that gets skimmed off the top of boiled milk.


Makhani (homemade butter)

At home, both my host unit and our mom, collects the cream that develops off the top of the buffalo milk when they homogenize it every morning.  Secretly, I’ve used a little of the cream, direct from the pot each morning, along with the good, good milk to make our chai.  But there’s always more than enough left for making makhani.  You can collect this every morning as well, for about 2 or 3 weeks, if you want to make genuine homemade mahkhani.  You can freeze the collected cream if you need a longer time to collect it.  Store it in the freezer or refrigerator in an airtight container, preferably glass.  Otherwise you can also use heavy whipping cream from a carton.

You can also churn this by hand with a whisk but that is laborious and I have a wonderful mixer with a whip (as I call it, it’s really a very large whisk attachment) that I use for making the butter.

Place the collected cream in the bowl of the mixer and turn it on medium speed.  First you will see whipped cream.  Keep going.  Soon the whipped cream will be begin to separate.  The watery mixture is buttermilk and the chunky bits are the butter.  I usually let the mixer go for another minute or so to extract as much of the butter from the buttermilk as possible.

Take a bowl and cover it loosely with some cheesecloth.  Strain the butter from the buttermilk slowly through the cheesecloth.  I then tie up the cheesecloth a little to squeeze out a little more of the buttermilk.

You can save the buttermilk for all sorts of uses which I won’t go into in detail here.  I’ve used it to make chapattis and I’ve added it to rice and veg dishes as well, with good success.  I’ve also watered plants with it occasionally.  It will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about a week or so, depending on the quality of the cream you made it with.  Use your common sense, if it changes colour or stops smelling like buttermilk and develops a bitter or rancid smell, it’s gone bad.  Don’t use it.

Store the makhani in an airtight container as well.  It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks if taken care of properly.  Use it anywhere you would use commercial butter.  It IS butter after all.

Desi ghee (from boiled milk)

Using the homemade makhani, simply follow the process above for ghee.  Easy peasy and ready to use!

That’s it for our post on ghee, makhani and desi ghee.  Easier than you thought?  If you try this, let me know how it goes!  Post pics!

Until next time,
Peace & love,



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