Monday, 27 January 2014

Ghee


Ghee comes from a Sanskrit wod "Ghrit" घ्र त so it is Ghee in Hindi or clarified Butter in English. Ghee is a key ingredient in Indian cooking. It has been used in India for thousands of years. Now that I think it was the best way to preserve the butter while cooking it. Back home in India I grew up with cows in my backyard. First my grandmother used to have a cow, then for some years she didn't have and then my father bought a big beautiful Jersey Cow, my grandma and mom used to milk it. She had to be milked thrice a day so it was quite a lot of work for them. But we grew up with fresh milk, home made Yogurt, buttermilk, butter and of course Ghee.


Here in Europe for many years I had the possibility to buy milk at the Farmer, and then I learnt that these people don't necessarily heat the milk here but keep it in the fridge as soon as they buy it and then the next day, the milk will of course have the creme so you take out the creme and use the milk, cooked or uncooked entirely up to you.


But back home everyone boils the milk, I guess the hot temperature calls for it. After the milk is boiled and cooled it is kept in the fridge and then you will get a thick layer called Malai in Hindi, I guess you could also call it creme but its cooked.

There are three ways that you can make butter out of the creme :

1. The easiest and the simplest one is to take out the creme from the raw milk and then beat it with a beater until butter comes out of the creme and the water separates. Add some ice cubes to the bowl after you see the butter about to come, this way the butter collects itself and gets together.

2. The second version what my mother in law used to do is, keep collecting the cooked Malai in a pot and after 2-3 days when you have enough, beat it until butter comes out and the rest is water.

3. The third which my family used to do is to make Yogurt with the milk and the creme too and in the morning my Mom had this big mixer, so she used to churn the Yogurt and then you will get a very creamy butter and what is left if the most delicious tasting butter milk you would have ever tasted. I guess this is old school now, not many people have cows at home and neither butter is made this way. But till date, making Yogurt at home is a very common practise in India, I guess the temperature helps too.

So, now you know a little bit about the old ways of preserving milk fat. I think the use of Ghee is in practise in the Indian kitchen goes for years and years. Ghee has a special flavour which enhances the dish and makes it flavourful. It is also used in Ayurveda as a medicine. It is considered auspicious too and it is used to light Diyas for the God (light/candle)with a cotton wick and it is also used in Vedic Yajan or Homas (Hawan)

So, that was quite an explanation. I didn't think this post will be so big but this one was long due because most of my students are also curious all the time to know about this Indian Fat called as Ghee. I hope this will help some of them to answer their questions.

Now we see how easy it is to make Ghee in today`s times. You just need a few things to make Ghee at home, Here is what you will need.

- a bar of unsalted butter
- a heavy bottomed pan
- a glass bottle
- a metal sieve

Method:

1. Take the bar of unsalted butter and keep it in the pan.
2. Heat the pan and after 2-3 minutes, reduce the heat from middle to low and cook it for further 15-20 minutes, checking on it every now and then.
3. First the butter will melt, then you will some it becomes forthy and slowly all the whey which is in the butter will get evaporated and the residue will become brown and stick at the bottom of the pan.
4. This time you should be able to see a beautiful golden colour liquid, make sure there is no whey or anything fresh in the Ghee.
5. If its completely clear, then close the gas, let is cool for a few minutes, then sieve it in a glass bottle through a fine metal sieve.
6. Keep it closed at room temperature.

Keep an eye on the ghee while cooking, because it can BURN, to coal black. It has happened to me a couple of times in the courses. We cannot cook it on a high flame as it tends to bubble and jump around, so its not safe. It does not have to be refrigerated, it stays good at room temperature. It do gets a bit solid but not like stone hard, its gets kind of semi-solid. Use it to make Rice, Daal, Indian sweets and about anything you fancy. 
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