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Ghee is clarified butter, which is generally sprinkled over breads, cooked rice, subzis, sweets, etc., to impart a tempting aroma. In fact, the name ‘ghee’ is derived from a Sanskrit word that means ‘sprinkled’.
Ghee can be prepared at home using the following method:
• Take off the cream after boiling milk.
• Once the cream is cold, take a wooden stick and churn it.
• The water separates and the rest becomes unsalted butter.
• Melt the butter over low heat gradually in a heavy-bottomed pot. Do not stir.
• Cook until it is a clear golden liquid.
• It may bubble and foam may form on top, which you'll need to skim off and discard.
• Remove from heat while the liquid is a clear gold. Any darker and it's overcooked.
• Take a large sieve and line it with 4 sheets of cheesecloth or muslin. Place it over a clean dry pot.
• While still hot, carefully strain the ghee through the cheesecloth-lined sieve into the pot.
• Transfer the strained ghee carefully into a clean glass jar and shut tightly. Ghee at room temperature looks semi-solid.
How to select
• It is best to prepare the ghee at home.
• If you buy from a store, then look for a well-known branded ghee as commercially-prepared ghee may have adulterants and added animal fats.
• Any pure ghee would be uniformly homogenous and not semi-solid on top and fully-caked and hard at the bottom.
• Organic ghee is also available in select markets.
• Since ghee doesn't spoil easily, it preserves the original freshness of herbs and foods.
• It has many favourable culinary properties too, such as the aroma and flavour it imparts and the fact that one needs to use only half as much as other cooking oils.
• It doesn't burn or smoke during cooking and combines excellently with a wide variety of spices.
• Ghee is used for tempering on dals and vegetable preparations or for preparing rice dishes like pulao and biryani.
• Ghee is also added on hot Indian breads or steaming hot cooked rice for its distinct aroma and taste.
How to store
• Ghee can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.
• Always use a clean utensil to scoop out ghee.
• Ghee is 100 per cent fat (about 14 grams per tablespoon) and that too saturated fats, which are known to increase risk to heart diseases. Hence, moderation must be exercised.
• However, it s advised to consume small amounts of ghee. Our ancient Ayurvedic texts gave ghee the cherished title of ‘rasayana’ - food that helps overall health, longevity and well-being.
• Ghee helps balance excess stomach acid, and helps repair the mucus lining of the stomach.
• Ghee contains butyric acid, a fatty acid that has anti-viral and anti-cancer properties.