Moongdal Thalipeeth - Lentil Flat bread
1000 Practical Receipts

How to make Ghee/ Clarified Butter


In one scintillating chapter of his book "It must've been something I ate", Jeffrey Steingarten writes about the qualities that both monosodium glutamate and tomato ketchup have. They enhance the inherent taste of foods they are added to because of synergy, not any definable chemical composition. They are 'Umami ' substances....which is Japanese for deliciousness. An omelette becomes an epiphany, a sweet corn chicken soup an elixir.

Just like ghee.. Add a dollop to any dal and savour the difference. Cook anything vegetable in it and the veggie goes from ordinary to extraordinary in one giant leap.

All these taste 'enhancers' are terrifically NO-NO. Ghee is a saturated fat made from cream or butter. In these health concious days it is not very popular in the average kitchen. I tend to cook in vegetable oil and add a half teaspoon of ghee at the end with the tarka/ seasoning. That way you get the taste without the harm.

In any case I have always felt ghee has a healing character. There are various reasons for this. It's efficacy in a severe viral gastroenteritis case. Frying anar dana / dried pomegranate seeds in a teaspoon of ghee and using it as a medicine helped enormously. Jeera/ cumin seed sauteed in ghee with a tablepoon of rice and then cooked for half an hour in plenty of water to make a kanji/ broth is another excellent food for convalescents.

How to make Real Ghee: Boil full cream milk and leave it to cool. Any cream present gathers on the top when cooled and can be skimmed off easily , especially if you refrigerate it for a day before doing this. Collect the cream in a bowl over the course of a week. A spoonful of yogurt helps to keep the cream fine without letting it get mouldy.

When you have collected enough cream which can be anything from 100 to 500 gms, heat a kadhai and add the cream. Let it melt on low heat. It will foam initially and then settle down. Continue to cook  on low heat for 45 minutes, till all the solids have sunk to the bottom of the kadhai. Drain off the liquid part. Strain though a cloth or stainless steel mesh strainer. After a while, when cold it becomes white in colour and solid. There is no need to refrigerate the ghee.

To cut the whole process short you can make ghee from bought unsalted butter as well. Follow the same method as above.