As the Indian life style changed so did the perception about ghee. Many people hold on to the belief that ghee or butter should be avoided as much as possible. I too was of this opinion until I came across a newspaper article written by nutritionist Ishi Khosla who is also the founder of the weightmonitor.com
According to her, there is a lot of misinformation about fat, which is, that fat is bad. All fats are not bad. There are good fats or essential fats and then there are bad fats. The key is to know the sources of both and strike the right balance. The good fats include nuts, seeds, fatty fish and cold pressed oils. Fried foods contain undesirable fattening trans-fatty acids. These should be avoided or at least taken seldom.
One should include a variety of vegetable oils in one’s diet since most vegetable oils individually do not have an ideal mix of fats. So go for blended oils such as mustard, canola, rice bran, olive and ghee. Khosla vehemently recommends kicking out refined oils from one’s diet. These apparently disturb the overall immune system. She is of the opinion that traditional fats like ghee, coconut oil and butter need not be totally stopped. They have an important role to play in immunity and digestion. Our body needs some essential fatty acids.
Freshly made gheeAccording to Gita, one of the most sacred scripture of the Hindus, there are three gunas or categories that control and influence one’s physical, mental and spiritual state. The food too has been categorized under these three gunas – Saatvik diet which is believed to nourish the soul, enrich and expand one’s consciousness and offers peace of mind. Rajas diet includes foods that over stimulate body and mind, leading to restlessness and Tamas which are foods that bring on a sense of dullness and inertia, leading to degeneration of one’s health.
Ghee is considered part of the Saatvik diet. A lot of Ayurvedic medicines have ghee as their core ingredient. This fat is believed to heal. There was a time when ghee was considered elixir i.e. the traditional home made one. It is ideal for deep frying since its smoke point is well above typical cooking oil temperatures and above that of most vegetable oils.The commercially available ones are most likely to be hydrogenated vegetable oil and heated milk fat. No wonder the ghee gradually earned a bad reputation for itself.
(Ghee having attained a soft grainy texture upon cooling)The word ghee comes from the Sanskrit word 'ghṛta' which means sprinkle so just as some wise person once said, “everything in moderation”, the same principle applies to the intake of ghee as well. A little sprinkle is all one needs to incorporate in one’s daily diet. Ghee is believed to help in regulating digestion and promoting optimum metabolism. According to Ayurvedic physician, Dr Bhayashree Zope, it helps improve the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) to LDL (bad cholesterol) and helps control the triglycerides. Apart from its goodness, it enhances the taste of the food too. Looks like a winner to me J
Here is the traditional method of making ghee. You will need...
½ kg home-made white ButterA thick bottom vessel/ saucepanLarge spoon (to stir)Muslin clothTea Sieve Sterilized air-tight Glass Container/s
Take the pan and place the butter into it. Now, switch on the heat and turn it on medium.
The butter will now begin to boil. Stir it gently once. Be careful as the butter might splutter. Let it boil for 5 minutes. Now, lower the heat to minimum and stir again one last time and no more after this stage.
The surface of the melted butter will now be quite clear and you can see the ghee in its golden glory!
Carefully and gently remove any foamy scum that may appear (it didn't happen with me) from the surface without disturbing the ghee or the bottom of the pan. Cool the ghee slightly. Line the sieve with muslin cloth and strain the ghee into air tight glass container.
Let the ghee cool completely and then shut it tightly with cover.Ghee can be stored for a month (or even longer during winters); all you need to ensure is that the lid is always tightly shut and you store it at a cool and dry place. Moisture can easily spoil the ghee. Note: Do NOT cover the pan at any stage of the cooking process. Note: Be patient and stay near the gas stove, by the cooking butter, since the butter has a mind of its own.
Note: The process timing may vary slightly depending on the amount of heat and kind of butter you are using. The whole process took me 20 minutes. (However, I cooked it further for approx 3-4 minutes to impart that toasty flavor)
Note: As the ghee cools, it will solidify and attain a soft grainy texture; it will solidify more where the weather is cold and will remain liquidy-grainy where the weather is warm.
Suggestion: I vehemently suggest that at each stage of the cooking process, keep smelling the melting butter and see how the aroma changes and it acquires that slightly burnt and nutty kind of flavor. You will be amazed!
Note: Please consult your doctor in case you have a medical condition that requires you to avoid fats.