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:
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). I prefer to make it myself from unsalted butter.
Ghee (from unsalted butter)
I make about 1/2 kg of ghee at a time and I share it with friends who also use it whenever I make a fresh batch. Use unsalted butter for the best results and also because you’re not going to eat the ghee directly. It’s going in something else (so you should season it at that time) or on your scalp or skin. You really don’t want the salt now.
450 g unsalted butter (1 brick)
In a pot on medium high heat, melt the butter. The butter will separate, creating a foam on the top, milk solids on the bottom and clear butter in the centre. Simmer the butter until the middle layer is golden and fragrant and the milk solids at the bottom begin to brown. I usually let it simmer about another minute or so from this point as it adds more of a nutty flavour to the ghee and ensures that all of the milk solids are separated. Take the butter off the heat and carefully skim off all of the foam with a strainer or a spoon. Allow the butter to settle so that the milk solids collect on the bottom of the pan. Gently pour the clarified layer through a strainer (I line mine with a little cheesecloth to catch all the milk solids) into a clean, dry, glass jar.
Ghee will keep in the jar, in a cool, dark place for weeks or kept in the refrigerator for up to a year (depending on whether you got all of the milk solids out).
Until next time,
Peace and love,