Homemade Ghee is the clarified form of cow's butter. It is obtained by melting and separating the fat from milk solids by slow heating and straining the residue. It was the traditional method of preserving butter from going rancid by removing the milk content 100%
A rewarding and satisfying process to awaken your five senses.
Ghee made from cow's milk is beyond an edible ingredient, its a spiritual journey for cleansing the mind and nourishing the body. My ancestors' everyday rituals prove this to be true. Let me take my daughter and you through the authentic story of doors, it is just a matter of opening the right one. Here is the most simplistic yet rewarding chore I grew up seeing on a daily basis..
History of Ghee - First hand account : (Spiritual and mental health)
As dusk approaches the centuries old palatial house ( in Kerala, India) gets lively, The hallways are swept again quickly in the evening, all the doors from the different wings of the house that leads outside are shut (about 15 doors). In those days this prevented the stray and wild animals from creeping inside after dark. It traps the good vibe to be produced in another few minutes to stay inside. The large ornate front door with wooden paneling and carvings is left wide open. Then the narrow thick wooden door to the room with thick wooden walls in the central courtyard is opened. "It's getting dark," says the elderly maternal aunt. She quickly washes her hands and feet, wears a fresh set of crisp cotton clothes as rest of the family members from many generations of the joint family do the same.
Spiritual ritual :
Everyone gathers in front of the dark prayer/ pooja room called (mach) but nobody is allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum. The twilight sets a beautiful ambiance throwing enough light on the whitewashed walls of the inner courtyard. It is a play of light and shadows.
Meanwhile, she tears few thin strips from the clean, washed muslin cloth, rolls it in between her palms and the wicks for that evening's spectacular prayer ceremony is ready. The spotlessly cleaned and wiped, 2 feet tall 250-year superior bronze oil lamp is arranged with the freshly made 7wicks and kept on an ornate brass platter thats as old as the lamp itself.
The elderly aunt brings a small lighted oil lamp from the kitchen walks towards the tallest lamp placed on the door step of the mach, pours liquid gold aka ghee into the 8 inches wide space on the upper deck of the lamp, lights it from the one she just brought. The aura of the flame lights up the pitch-dark room where the divine deity's weapons rest. Unlike most Hindu homes there is no idol worship happening here. The most important goddess's real swords and weapons are laid on an ornate pedestal. The ones with which the deity fought and won the real war against a neighboring mighty evil King.
Pious believer :
The prosperous ancestral home basks in the evening glory of the bygone era. Many wicks are taken in different directions by rest of the women to the oil lamps. These are built around the home in stone, adding fresh oil each time it is lit. Each stone lamp signifies for a certain deity that safeguards the home and its members. Forefathers, significant deities, and the serpent king all are worshiped. Lots of prayers are chanted. Towards the end of the prayer on important days a camphor is lit and we seek blessings with both hands put above the flame . With the ring finger a dab of the burnt ash is applied on the forehead to signify the blessing received.
The is no pompous display to please the Gods. The peace and quiet of the place is the highlight, it simply allows the devotee to be one with God. The daily prayer ritual comes to an end but the ghee lamp still continues to burn spreading light and pleasant fragrance. It purifies the air and give clarity of to the mind.
I cannot speak for others but the tranquility I experience standing there and the strength I regain cannot be put in words.
Why is a ghee lamp lit?
Agni Purana states thats ghee has more power to attract sattvic (good) vibrations than oil. The maximum distance the sattvic vibration can travel is up to Swarga lok (heaven). Even if none of the rituals in today's or in the ancient world made sense to you this will. A woman winning over an evil man in a battlefield with mental and physical strength is commendable and worth worshipping. As an expression of our devotion purest of pure ghee is our offering to show our respect. When that burns it opens the right door in our minds, spreads its divine aroma, we inhale the courage and exhale fears.
Coming to the magic potion for the body.. ghee was consumed only in very limited quantities like nectar.
Daily ghee consumption, the way my ancestors did: (Consumption varies with climate)
- The climate in Kerala is warm and tropical so the people in those days did not have to consume so much fat to stay warm as other parts of India except during monsoons.
- Though ghee has a high smoke point and can be used to cook or saute about 1 to 2 tsps only was consumed in a day by a healthy adult or child.
- Ideally, ghee is taken along with very warm ball of rice and cooked dal/lentil as the first serving for lunch to reap the best benefit out of it then continue with a vegetarian platter after that. Ghee lines the walls of the stomach and aid in digestion on special occasions and a tsp or more on hot rice porridge or gruel for lunch on a daily basis.
- Ghee was used mostly as a seasoning on top of desserts and for pooja prasads (food made for prayer offerings . It was later distributed to worshippers) like neyiappam, neipayasam etc which was consumed in very limited quantities only.
- Note: Excessive use of ghee can lead to indigestion and best avoided during night. Most often ayurvedic detox and cleanse by taking a tsp of ghee as the first thing in the morning in empty stomach and followed by a strict diet regime. Consult a good practitioner before doing so.
Benefits of having ghee :
Ghee / Homemade Ghee / How to make ghee from butter
Reference (Yoga Digest)
- Strengthens the brain and nervous system and promotes memory, intelligence, Agni (digestive fire) and Ojas (essential life energy).
- Ghee is a great rasayana (rejuvenator) for the eyes.
- Enhances the digestive fire while cooling and alkalizing.
- Binds toxins and pacifies pitta and vata.
- Enhances complexion and glow of the face and body.
- Increases physical and mental stamina.
- Ghee supports learning, retention, and recall.
- Increases longevity.
- Ghee cools and lubricates the stomach wall.
- Nurtures and cleanses blood tissue.
Most often high heat is the culprit. Make sure not to cook ghee on high heat as the butter will quickly burn and go from brown to black and give burnt taste. Use heavy bottom deep pot (with high walls) for best results.
Once you find the butter starts scorching at the bottom remove from flame and immediately transfer the contents into a fresh steel heavy bottom pot.
Sweet cream butter will not give the desired ghee.
The quality of butter, utensil used, the heat of cooking all determine the amount of ghee and color of ghee.
As the milk solids brown the color of ghee deepens so once the ghee begins to boil keep a close eye.
Storing ghee :
Once little cool pour into dry glass jar close when completely cool and store the ghee at room temperature. Store in a cool dry place up to a month or more. No refrigeration is generally needed to store ghee. It stays good on the counter for a month. But if you live in hot and humid climate it is better to refrigerate ghee after few days to improve shelf life.
If the ghee is not cooked properly and the milk solids are present it can go rancid in few days.Hence cooking thoroughly is very important.
Traditional recipes that use ghee are : Semolina pudding (Kesari) , Rice and lentil pudding (Pongal) Sweet lentil crepe (Boli), Coconut burfi , Jackfruit preserve
- A heavy stainless steel pot with tall sides
- A sieve or wire mesh strainer or coffee paper
- A clean dry glass bottle
- 1 lb Organic unsalted butter (I use #Kerrygold or #Finlandia both are very good)
- Butter should be thawed and at room temperature.
- Wash the stainless steel utensil and put the butter inside it. (This prevents the butter from scorching at the bottom). Heat butter on a medium heat until it melts and becomes completely liquid.
- Reduce heat and allow it to simmer uncovered for the next 40-45 minutes. Do not touch or stir in between.In this time the butter will melt and the milk solids will form,foam and froth on top.(pic4 and 5)
- At this stage you may use a tablespoon or ladle and skim the top and remove the froth (pic 6)and use it same day in savory dishes or discard or leave it in the pot and continue cooking and the milk solids will settle at the bottom turning into yellowish brown.
- As the cooking progresses the froth and foam clears up and the liquid begins to boil and large bubbles appear the slight spluttering sounds change into steady boiling sound. (The sound changing is the biggest clue the ghee is almost done)
- From this point boil for few more minutes in the sim if u prefer darker shade (Take care if the bottom is burning then ghee will taste burnt). Remove pot from stove immediately to stop cooking and browning.
- Once little cool pour into dry glass jar close when completely cool and store the ghee at room temperature in a cool dry place up to a month or more.No refrigeration is generally needed to store ghee. It stays good on the counter for a month.
- Ghee solidifies in colder temps
- Sweet cream butter will not give the desired ghee.
- The quality of butter, utensil used, the heat of cooking all determine the amount of ghee and color of ghee.
- As the milk solids brown the color of ghee deepens so once the ghee begins to boil keep a close eye.
Hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know how this turned out .Ghee / Homemade Ghee / How to make ghee from butter
wow such an elaborate post for clarified butter, nailed it 🙂 Awesome photographes meena 🙂
Remya Elizabeth Anish
Beautifully written about those times and tharavadu.... super narration and I too remember my granny insisting us kids to come and light the lamp and pray (singing songs and pray). She tears a muslin cloth and make thiri for lamp. Perfectly made ghee and love the background board..... no wonder because u r such a talented artist 🙂 🙂
I just loved how simple yet beautiful they are!! Thanks for the post Meena, you can't believe how much it's going to help me.
Wow... I have never had access to any Hindu homes since ours is a Muslim intensive area but reading through your post, made me feel that I was watching along with you whatever was going on... 🙂 Ghee is something I truly miss while on my vegan diet... It's aroma and flavor is something else, alle? I would never make my ghee from butter when we get good Indian brands here, but still... love those pics... the ghee glistens so beautifully...
I agree ghee is good for health. I also must say there should be moderation, otherwise, I will be growing side ways. Still, I simply love ghee though try to control the amount. I love this home made version as well. Must give a try soon.
When there is so much thought put into ghee making we should give it due respect na 🙂
Thank you Manju.
How similar are our childhood days Remya! Our culture and traditions did bring out the best in us.
Thank you dear for ur kind words.
I am so glad u liked the post Dolphia. Please keep me posted.
Thank you Dolphia.
I am so happy to know that u liked the post Rafee. Oh please please make it at home Rafee the taste difference is vast. Hope ur vegan pathyam ends fast.
Thank you dear.
So true moderation is the key. Tell me about growing side ways happens from anything I eat :))
Thank you Nava.