I often get asked about the use of ghee in Indian cooking, properties and also how to make your own ghee.
Ghee is essentially Indian clarified butter made from rich butter that is heated over a period of time separating the milk solids to produce a golden and clear fat.
It is used in Indian homes during auspicious occasions, to light lamps/ diyas and is known to have healing properties too. Primarily used during cooking and a delicious accompaniment during meals. My favourite is a dollop of ghee over dal and rice. It’s what reminds me of home and my childhood. Although growing up I watched how my mother made ghee and it was of course a much more traditional (and longer!) process than my ‘instant’ attempt here.
Every week she would collect layers of cream from buffalo milk and refrigerate it. I would help her churn the cream into butter or as we would call it ‘loni’. Once the butter separates it is then used to make ghee in a similar method below. The ghee is strained after the milk solids settle at the bottom of the pan and go light brown in colour. This was usually my favourite as I used to scrape out and eat it. The milk solids make great barfi too!
Ghee lends a lovely nutty intense flavour to dishes and is perfect to use while cooking especially as it has a very high smoking point as compared to regular clarified butter and most cooking oils too. I always recommend using it sparingly though as a little goes a long way.
It is delicious when added to Indian curries! So make sure to give it a go…
Just a few things to remember while making Ghee;
It’s best to make Ghee with creamy rich butter. So good quality organic butter is great, I tend to opt for one from my local farm shop. The quality of butter will impact on the resultant ghee. You can store the ghee is a glass jar at room temperature. Or you can also refrigerate which will last 5-6 months.
Add the butter to a large saucepan over a low flame and let it melt. This should take around 12-15 minutes. A layer of white foam will appear over the surface skim it off with a spoon. Let the butter simmer and bubble away for 20-25 minutes. Make sure to scrape off the sides although there is no need to stir the bottom of the pan. You need the milk solids to settle so you can see the layers. Skim off any additional foam that collects over the top and turn the heat off.
Cool the ghee and by now all the milk solids will have settled to the bottom of the pan with a clear liquid at the top. Line a sieve with a cheese cloth or muslin. Strain the ghee with the lined sieve in the pouring jug. Store the ghee in a sealed glass jar. Cool and store the jar at room temperature or refrigerate.