Ghee is traditionally used in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali and Sri Lankan cuisine, however versions of it are used throughout the world. It is very similar to clarified butter and made almost in the same way, just cooked a bit longer until the milk solids are browned. While not vegan, the process of making Ghee removes all of the milk solids, so it is a safe alternative to those with milk/lactose allergies. The flavor of your Ghee will depend greatly on the quality of the butter you start with. The best Ghee will come from grass fed cows, best if you can find fresh butter from a local farmer. If you are not near a farming community and live in the United States or Canada, Kerrygold butter is also a great alternative. Make sure you buy the full fat, traditional Kerrygold if you choose that route.
I am most familiar with the traditional uses of Ghee in Indian cooking, which they use to cook rice, dosas, curries and many other popular items. Ghee is also frequently served on the side for dipping in Indian cuisine. Naan, one of my favorite breads in the world, is usually brushed with Ghee while cooking to give it that sweet, buttery flavor.
Ghee can be used to cook almost anything requiring the use of butter or oil, and when prepared with high quality butter it will contain no trans fats. So while Ghee is 100% fat, many doctors agree it is much healthier than many oils. Trans fats have been shown in laboratory testing to raise the risk of heart disease. Be careful if you choose to purchase pre-made Ghee instead of making your own, as there are many companies that market as “pure Ghee” when in fact they use vegetable oils containing trans fats. When made properly, Ghee is aromatic and nutty, with a hint of sweetness that lends itself to a variety of dishes and cuisines.
Making Ghee at Home
What you’ll need:
1lb high quality, full fat, unsalted butter
Double mesh strainer
Large mixing bowl with lip for pouring
Jars for storage (I use mason jars)
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter foams and starts to boil. Lower heat to medium low and let simmer, do not stir in this phase. Allow the butter to continue to simmer until the foam disappears and the butter starts to clear. While waiting, place your double mesh strainer over the mixing bowl with the cheesecloth laid over the strainer. You will see the milk solids begin to form, stir gently a few times just to let the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pot. Keep simmering, stirring occasionally so the milk solids don’t stick. Your Ghee will be finished cooking once the milk solids are a medium golden brown and the butter is finished foaming. Immediately pour the Ghee over the cheesecloth to strain out the milk solids. Some may choose to discard these, others can follow my short recipe below for a delicious treat to make with these. Pour into glass jars for storage. Your Ghee should be a lovely clear gold color, which will solidify as it cools. It is now ready for use!
Ladoo (Laddu) – Tasty treats made from leftover milk solids
If you do not have a dairy allergy, there is no reason to discard the delicious milk solids that are left over from your homemade Ghee. They are very simple to make and are a great way to enjoy the fruits of your Ghee labor right away.
What you’ll need:
Leftover milk solids from making Ghee (recipe above)
½ cup wheat flour
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp Ghee
3 tbsp halved raw, unsalted cashews (optional)
Combine the milk solids, sugar and wheat flour in the same pan you just made Ghee, mix well to fully incorporate and heat over medium low until golden brown. In separate pan, lightly fry the cashews in two tablespoons of Ghee. Add cashews to the wheat mixture and incorporate by hand, adding the remaining tablespoon of Ghee if mixture is not wet enough. Begin hand forming small balls in your hands and set out on parchment. These can be eaten immediately or cooled and eaten at room temperature. Either way, they are delicious!