Ghee – A Millenary Treasure From India

For those of you who are familiar with Indian cooking or even Ayurvedic medicine, ghee or clarified butter has probably no secrets. However, a bit of history cannot do prejudice, and those who are new to it will appreciate its many uses as well as health benefits.

In the west, we are used to butter, which cannot be kept for very long as it will oxidize and go rancid, especially in higher temperatures. However, in India and many countries, where prior to refrigeration techniques, butter could never be kept, clarified butter or ghee is commonly used, for conservation purposes.

For ever, butter has been a major cooking ingredient, Indians and other populations have invented a unique process of cooking the butter using low temperature, while removing the water, lactose and protein parts from milk. The result is to obtain a perfect dissociation of liquid parts from fatty parts, which is then filtered and put into jars for long conservation purposes; and this is known as “ghee”.

There are several kinds of ghees and names for it: in India it is called “ghee” or “smel” or “gee”, in Egypt it is known as “samla”, in Morocco it is the “smen”. The main difference is the origin and preparation of the milks; in North Africa the use of goat or sheep is more common, whereas in Nepal it will come from the yaks and in India from cows and buffalos.

One of its benefits is that it can bear high temperatures without damages or go black, or even burn. It will blend evenly any food as well enhance the aromas of spices and herbs. One of the secrets in Indian cuisine is to start the dish by brewing the spices in the ghee prior to adding the other ingredients.

Another great advantage is that it does not take so much quantity as opposed to other fatty acids, such as oils or butter. About 2/3 of the usual quantity is enough when cooking with ghee, which is another very good reason for westerners to start using it. Ghee can be used freely in any recipe, either salty or sweet, with maybe the exception of using it as a spread.

Since lactose (milk sugar) has been totally removed, ghee is compatible with any regimen designed for people who react to it or have lactose intolerance. People suffering from allergies will benefit greatly from it overall, and it is a delicious alternative to margarines which are synthetic substitutes for butter, but far from a healthy one!

Ghee can be added to any dish as such, since it does not require to be cooked. It is delicious on rice, pasta, fish, vegetables, etc. and its slight hazelnut aroma will enhance most dishes tremendously.

If you plan to buy it, Indian as well as specialized groceries usually carry it, but you will find it online if there are none in your area. Another alternative is to look for organic ghee, so as to benefit from its natural healing properties all year around. It will last forever on a shelf provided that you keep the jar closed, and it needs no refrigeration at all.

It has so many uses that it overpasses the scope of this article, but you can do your own experiences and find its thousands of uses easily.

A little beauty secret: it is a great moisturer and chapped lips, hands, elbows, baby bottom and feet. Your skin will greatly appreciate and tolerate it well.

(c) Copyright – Suzanna Perkins. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.