It is simple to love ghee. It is incredibly wonderful, similar to the extra-rich French butter (also known as the good stuff), which has been delicately caramelized and turned into a spread. It is practically the perfect cooking oil because it is generously high in smoke point and is shelf-stable. The distinctively flavoring fat also has a long history dating back to well-known Ayurvedic treatments, which is a natural system of medicine, that originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. There is a lot to adore, but what exactly is ghee and how can you make the most of it?
What is it exactly?
Clarified butter, also known as butter that has been filtered and cooked to remove all water, is known as ghee. Uncooked milk solids are added to clarified butter in France, giving the finished product a particularly pure, sweet flavor. In contrast, ghee is heated at a low temperature until the milk solids have an opportunity to begin to lighten in color and develop a caramelized, slightly nutty flavor. It has a high smoke point, is shelf-stable, and tastes intensely nutty. Since ancient times, ghee has been essential to Ayurveda, where its anti-inflammatory, digestive, and medicinal qualities are highly valued. Even in the Vedic creation story, when the deity Prajapati made ghee out of nothing and put it in the fire to produce his offspring, it is told.
Ghee has been a revered component of the subcontinental diet for centuries, but it lost popularity a few decades ago when saturated fats were mainly seen as bad. Indians are now returning to this component that is so essential to their cuisine as worldwide attitudes around saturated fats have changed more lately.
A return to the basics trend in India, which had been years in the making but gained momentum during the pandemic when "people started being more mindful about their food," is what Kalyan Karmakar, an Indian food author sees as the revived interest in ghee. This movement is a component of the general "slow food" movement. Ghee has unbreakable cultural linkages and can be made locally, even at home, in accordance with the movement's guiding principles.
On the other hand, while most experts still advise against eating a lot of fat, others have started to change their minds about the dangers of saturated fat in general. Ghee's popularity has increased in nations like the US in part due to the high-fat keto diet fad.
The West's recent enthusiasm for ghee, meanwhile, might be a little mistaken. One reason is that ghee is frequently praised for having a high smoke point, which allows it to endure heat greater than butter. However, according to the chef, restaurateur, and MasterChef India judge Ranveer Brar, the goal of using ghee in cooking is to "only get to a point of extracting the flavors," not to reach a smoking temperature.
Knowing ghee ultimately entails understanding a communal Indian identity, a unified, comprehensive, and balanced approach to eating, and one in which ghee is not a fragmented component or an obtrusive presence. And when ghee is recognized for what it truly is, positive outcomes are inevitable.
Ghee is constantly accessible to Brar by his cooktop. As Brar has remarked, "I've grown up with my grandma's chunni [scarf or stole] and the whole house smelling of ghee. When I reach for ghee, I'm searching for more than just a fat. I'm reaching out for my childhood."
Abarbanel, Aliza. “What Is Ghee, the Clarified Butter We Could Eat by the Spoon?” Bon Appétit, Bon Appétit, 5 Apr. 2018, www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-ghee.
Alfaro, Danilo. “Ghee: A Nutty Butter with Indian Origins.” The Spruce Eats, The Spruce Eats, 3 Aug. 2022, www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-ghee-995696.
“The Purest Food on Earth?” BBC Travel, BBC, www.bbc.com/travel/article/20220726-the-purest-food-on-earth.