Sunshine in a Bottle

A lot of people are kinda hazy about what clarified butter, or ‘ghee’ is.

As an Indian, you take it for granted. From childhood you are indoctrinated with the idea that ghee is the ambrosia of the Gods. The panacea to combat all ills. That vital ingredient that exalts a pedestrian dish into something lyrical!

I would never have thought to write a post on making ghee, were it not for Azita of Fig and Quince.

Much like ghee, Azita turns the mundane into the magical. She has the story-telling ability of Scheherazade. Go check out her lovely blog. You’ll be enchanted!

Ghee is very simple to make, and equally easy to botch up. The simplest explanation is that butter is heated to the point when the milk solids brown and form a sediment. This is clarifying the butter. The clear ghee is strained and now, has a much longer shelf life. But enough talk. Here is the process in pictures.

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Unsalted butter, 500g.

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In a heavy saucepan, ready to face the fire.

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Starting to melt.

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Bubble bubble, toil and trouble.

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Watch out for the butter overflowing. Reduce the heat if you need to. You’ll now hear the characteristic bubbling sound.

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As the bubbling intensifies, you’ll see the scum on the surface, start to clear.

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When the bubbling sounds dies down (there will still be froth on the surface), and the milk solids turn brown, turn off the heat. The heat of the ghee will continue to turn the sediments brown.

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As the ghee cools, the froth on the surface, clears. Let the sediments settle and the ghee cool until it can be poured into a bottle.

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Enjoy your bottle of sunshine.

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Yes, that was me, snacking on ghee at midnight- all in the interests of my research for this post.
But what of that sediment, you’re wondering. Is it discarded? Absolutely not!

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The “pinjari” or brown sediment is mixed into hot, plain rice and sugar, for a delectable treat!

The ghee goes on to become the ambrosia of the Gods. The panacea to combat all ills. That vital ingredient that exalts a pedestrian dish into something lyrical! And so the legend continues…..

On a practical note: Ghee can be left out at room temperature for a week to 10 days. Longer, in a colder climate. Oh, and 500g of butter makes only about 300g of ghee.

We use it to make sweets, to do our “tempering” for dals, to fry onions for our pulaos, to serve in dollops over upma, to add oomph to dosas…..the list goes on.

Do write in and tell me what you’d like to use it for.
R

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32 Comments Add yours

  1. Fig & Quince says:

    Wow – thank you for this amazing tutorial. ALL of it is new to me and quite interesting. I love how multifacted its use is – the pinjari sounds delicious! I found out recently that ghee would be quite wonderful in Persian rice making (specially for tadig) so I’m super grateful you put all of this together and excited to give it a try.

    As for the SUPER NICE things you said about yours truly, what can I say except for: awwww! I’m melting just like the ghee :))))

    so delighted to find you and your blog and can’t wait for your gourd tutorial!

    1. radhika25 says:

      Azita, I’ve added some daytime shots, so that you can see what the finished product looks like. Those last pictures were taken at 1am, and looked awful!
      I’ll make the halwa, sometime soon. When my waistline gets back to normal. And also show you what all, the ghee can be used for 🙂

  2. Thank you for the fantastic tutorial, so glad the wonderful Azita inspired this. I love the step by step. I have never made ghee before but I will now.

    1. radhika25 says:

      As Aruna says, your house will smell divine, and your neighbours will come a-knocking on your door!

  3. Like Suzanne I’ve never made Ghee. I’ve cooked with it when I still lived in London. Must try making it as I’m developing a recipe for banana bread – that I’m addicted to – and want that unmistakable buttery taste with health benefits. Or at least I’m assuming ghee is better for you.

    1. radhika25 says:

      I have read that ghee is even healthier than vegetable oil to cook in, but don’t quote me on it. I know that there are these Ayurvedic spa retreats which put you on a diet of liquid ghee -(enough to kill your love for ghee, for life :D), TO LOSE WEIGHT!
      I can see Obelix going “Toc, Toc, Toc – those Indians are crazy”.

  4. – This brings a nostalgic memory… When I was a very small child, we moved to Japan in 1956 (~1965). We were a big family and had many events at home. My mom will order groceries in big bulks, which was very uncommon in Japan. Every few months, she would order a 20 kg crate of butter, which came heavily salted, with milk solids, and ? . She had taught her help to take 2 kg worth of it every time needed and make ghee, as you have tutored. The brown sediment was discarded, too~ salty. 😦
    – We used ghee for everything. When I am not lazy, I do melt the butter to use the clear.
    As Azita said, not only we use clear oil/butter for the bottom of the pot, but also to shower (exaggeration) the steamed rice (which is avoided these days due to health reasons).
    😀

    1. radhika25 says:

      20 kgs of butter? Oooh, butter heaven!

  5. I love the aroma that fills my home when ghee is made….. And the taste that ghee imparts to simple dal-rice.

    Just after the melted butter turns into the golden liquid and starts to bubble, Amma used to add just 1/2 a tsp of water to the ghee. This helps miraculosly clear the scum and get you absolutely clear ghee.

    And we use to have batches of ghee at home; Ghee from cow milk for pooja and very small kids and ghee from buffalo milk for general consumption. The color, texture, and taste are quite different. Ghee from cow milk and cow milk in general is lighter and easy to digest and so given to kids and those who are sick!

    1. radhika25 says:

      Wow! Aruna, never knew that cow’s milk ghee was so different from buffalo’s milk ghee. But then in my place ghee was made from homemade butter- but from packets of Amul or Nandini milk. We never had the tabelawala come and deliver fresh milk.
      I must try your mom’s trick of adding water to the hot ghee. But did she have to refrigerate it then? Does it keep as long? Here with my kids having flown the coop, there’ll be no one eating the ghee, but me 🙂 *happy dance*

      1. Most packet milk is cow milk. In good old days in Mumbai, Aarey used to give us “”milk in white packet” aka cow milk and “milk in blue packet” aka buffalo milk.

        We use cow milk for coffee-tea and buffalo milk for dahi, butter, and ghee; and of course, rich payasam 🙂

        Luckily, we still have several dairies near my home which supply both. Sadly, gone are the days when I can enjoy buffalo milk products without battling the consequent bulge, not that it stops me. 🙂

      2. radhika25 says:

        Bombay? Loved living there.
        Sad how all the wonderful things in life are fattening 🙂
        R

  6. Tahny Lowry says:

    Mmmmm butter! I love hat you snack at midnight too! We’re kindred spirits! This is such a great posting, excellent info!

    1. radhika25 says:

      Try it sometime. It’s a great base for Indian cooking. And makes fantastic cookies too. When people talk of browned butter, it one step short of making ghee 🙂

  7. Geni says:

    I think I could bathe in that golden deliciousness. But for cooking I would love to fry up a potato medley with it and some rosemary. Heaven…

    1. radhika25 says:

      That sounds like a fabulous idea! I should try it sometime. Never thought of combining potato and rosemary.
      R

  8. Hi

    I really enjoyed your instruction on making homemade ghee. Brought back memories of my grandmother. What is your opinion about bottled store-bought ghee?

    Thanks

    VS

    1. radhika25 says:

      Thank you!
      We eat so little ghee now, that I’d rather make it than buy it. If you had to buy, I’d recommend the ‘Shakti’ brand.
      Radhika

  9. I have learn a few excellent stuff here.
    Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how
    a lot attempt you set to make this sort of magnificent informative site.

    1. radhika25 says:

      Thank you Yolanda 🙂

  10. If some one desires expert view regarding blogging then i propose him/her
    to visit this blog, Keep up the nice work.

    1. radhika25 says:

      Thank you Ellen!

  11. Keith Ward says:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and
    wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    1. radhika25 says:

      Thank you Keith. Sorry about the late reply.
      R

  12. Great post! We will be linking to this great post on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

  13. Excellent post! We are linking to this great content on our
    website. Keep up the good writing.

  14. Ruchi says:

    Wow!! Just wow Radhika.. Loved it.. And loved ur blog 🙂 thanks for so easy tutorial:)

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