Ghee is most often used in Indian cooking. It is found easily in most health food stores these days as well as some groceries, but it is easy to make and lasts a long time, so try making it at home.
I discovered a love for Indian foods many years ago. I am not of Indian origin, but I have cooked many wonderful dishes, and am always on the lookout for an interesting sounding spice combination and a new recipe to try. Long ago I found I really disliked commercial curry powder, no matter how fresh, so for a long time I avoided Indian cuisine, thinking it was all about curry powder. I was so wrong. I have been making up for lost time ever since.
One of the near essentials, ghee is used all over the Indian continent. Basically a clarified butter, ghee has one of the highest smoke points of any oil and is wonderful used for frying because it does not go rancid easily. Once made, ghee can last months if stored in a tightly sealed container, away from heat and light. It can be stored in the refrigerator, but will need to come to room temperature before use.
Making ghee is a simple process, taking about 20 minutes. Using one pound of good quality unsalted butter will yield approximately 10 to 12 ounces of ghee. I mention using good quality butter for good reason. Higher quality butter generally has a lower moisture content. Too much moisture in the simmering butter will result in large pops and bursts, sending boiling temperature butter all over the stove and you. Obviously, this is dangerous.
Place one pound of unsalted butter into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a temperature that will maintain a simmer. The milk solids will immediately begin to release and float, and first there will be a thick white foam. With a tablespoon, continuously remove the foam to a bowl. After the white foam, there will continue to be foam occurring, which needs to be removed. After about 15 minutes the overall look of the bubbles on the surface will change to much finer and lighter quality, but still continue to remove any scum or foam that forms. Watch for the point where there is almost no foam and the bubbles are clear. At this point there will also be a layer of golden brown in the bottom of the pan, clearly visible. If any of the brown bits are loose and floating, you will need to strain the ghee through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, to remove the browned milk solids.
Pour off the ghee into a clean jar with a tight fitting lid. Place a metal spoon into the jar while pouring in the hot ghee, to absorb some of the heat and prevent the jar from shattering. Allow the ghee to cool before sealing and storing.
Now you have ghee, but what to do with it? Ghee has a lovely golden color and a nutty flavor and aroma that goes well in most dishes. If you love Indian cuisine, obviously this is the first place to use it, but if not, try it in the pan to make scrambled or basted eggs. Use it to butter noodles. The flavor is divine. When my children were still at home, I would often make wide egg noodles, and put in a good dollop of ghee to melt into the noodles. Then I would add in a can of drained sliced mushrooms, a lot of good quality cracked pepper, about 2 tablespoons or more of fresh basil, some salt and some freshly grated parmesan cheese. They loved it, as did I. I made it often, and still make it occasionally. It constituted a whole meal at times we just did not feel the need for meat, though it can be a side dish just as easily. The uses for ghee are limited only by your imagination. It is made from butter, but has transcended to a longer lasting form with a great flavor. I recommend having it on hand at all times.
About The Author
My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what A Harmony of Flavors means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.
My passion is to teach people how to create a Harmony of Flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own.
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