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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

ઘી- Ghee

ઘીGhee as written in Gujarati, which is my mother tongue.

I have to say the scent of butter simmering away in my mother’s tiny kitchen stove twice a year filled our home with aromas that left me feeling a little woozy to say the least. The rich scent of 5lbs of butter melting away overtook my olfactory senses to such an extent that I had stay clear from the house until the process was complete.
 Pann Leaves
However I would help my mother prepare it though I was still a little girl. We unwrapped the packets of butter and placed them in a hugh heavy bottomed pan which she never used for any other cooking. And it was my job to run down to our local little Indian grocers shop to fetch a pann leaf or two which  I tore into strips ready for them to be added into the pot.
The pann helps the finished ghee curl better from a spoon when serving it. I loved doing this with her to see if it worked after each ghee making process. It always did and I was delighted. Basmati rice would add the most amazing comforting flavours. I could cope with that. Basmati means the queen of scent and as it ages this cooked rice has a beautiful nutty scent and it cooks alot better with separate grains thus absorbing less water. This is something I will write about in more detail another time. Ghee added to such rice is heavenly, one of purest flavours I ever remember eating and savouring. I never really cared for the shop- bought product.
Picture from nourish kitchen .com
To make a good ghee you need milk from cows that have been fed on grass and not much else. Cows roam freely in India even on the busy streets and roads of Mumbhai , rather than being  hooted out of the way by drivers. A relaxed cow produces better milk although these will obviously be are diary cows. Organic unsalted butter works well too. It can also be made from buffalo milk when ghee is used in Hindu religious ceremonies. The ghee made from cows’ milk is regarded as the finest and holds most significance .Ghee is not only used in cooking but in many Hindu religious ceremonies such as birth, deaths, initiation into manhood weddings and also as gift giving at funerals to aid purifying the soul . Ghee is used to light holy lamps known as divas - ghee lamps used to celebrate Diwali The Hindu festival of lights.

Its a product which does not require refrigeration as it does not spoil in warmer climates and conditions as long as its kept away from moisture and not exposed to air. In fact some ghees have been known to keep for up to 100 years.  It has a smoking point of at least 250 °C - butter which is only 85% fat has a much lower smoking point when cooking. Flavoured ghee can be made; however I prefer it natural to accompany breads and rice dishes and to cook  with.  I call it liquid gold. Ghee is excellent for chapped lips. I would recommend  it. Smear a little on your lips before you go to sleep to aid  beautiful soft lips and it really does help sooth a sore throat - my Father would add a little in his chai   

Although India is the world’s largest producer of Ghee (and it largest consumer) it is produced in other parts of the world too. It is great for lactose intolerant people as the milk solids are removed. The caramelised milk solid and proteins flavour the ghee adding a sweet nutty taste to the fat which makes it special and it has high smoking point that allows roasting without burning for longer periods than butter does.. 

The clarification starts with the pan of butter and pann leaf .  Slowly melt the butter on a high to medium heat until the butter has completely melted. Stir it once and then allow it to simmer for at least15-20 mins. The yellow liquid will start forming with white spots and bubbles on the surface. This evaporates away any water and removes the milk solids and proteins from the fat which will either rise to the surface or sink to the bottom of the pan which should be a light brown colour and caramelised- any darker and it will affect the taste of the ghee s and it will taste burnt .Once the liquid has a refined clarity to it and you can see to bottom of the pan its ready to take off the heat.The foaming and bubbling will take place several times before the liquid settles into golden liquid with good clarity.   This is when you know its ready to remove from the heat and cool for 1-2 hours at room temperature. Strain through  a piece of cheese cloth. The solids that have collected in the cloth can be eaten with a little almond flour and dates or on some fresh bread. This is tasty and very nutritious.

 I love this little recipe for my version of a semolina and ground nut sprinkle delicious over mango ice cream .

A handful of coarse semolina
1 tablespoon of ghee
1 tablespoon of sugar
5 cardamon pods peeled and seeds crushed
1 tablespoon of ground almonds
1 tablespoons of pistachios crushed.


1.     Melt the ghee in a heavy bottom pan.
2.     Add in the semolina
3.     Roast the semolina in the ghee and continuously stir it  for about 20 mins until its taken a slightly brownish colour.
4.     Allow it to cool then add the sugar , nuts and cardamon

Hope you like it too.

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