Ghee 101 – making delicious clarified butter

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Ghee 101 – making delicious clarified butter

Ghee or clarified butter is a big part of South Asian cuisine.  It has such amazing flavor that a little goes a long way.  I’ve tried making ghee at home but it never seems to taste or smell like the amazing stuff we get back home (meaning the “homeland” of course).  In Bangladesh, there is a famous brand called “Baghabari Ghee” with a picture of a Royal Bengal Tiger on the label.  It’s famous flavor is renowned .  Every time I went home for a visit I would try to sneak a few jars of the stuff back with me.  I even tried to bribe my relatives who were going home to get me some ghee.  They would look at me in disbelief.  Really of all the things I could request someone bring back on a long journey and it’s ghee?  That’s a foodie for you.  I’m well-known for trying to schlep food in luggage.  One time I had curried Hilsa fish in my carry-on luggage (this was before the TSA liquid restrictions) and it exploded all over everything.  The WHOLE plane smelled like Bengali Hilsa Fish.  I tried to look innocent and blend, which is hard to do on a flight from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho because I was the only brown person on the plane.  Flight attendants were walking back and forth sniffing the air and saying things like, “do you smell that?” or  “what is that smell?”

For years, my attempts at making ghee seemed a waste of time since I couldn’t tell the difference between the ghee or just regular butter.  Why bother if the flavor is not improved?  The whole idea behind a good ghee is to remove the milk protein from the butter leaving behind a nutty unclouded liquid.  My problem was that I was not heating it long enough at a low enough temperature.  The trick here is to use a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron dutch oven or something similar and heat the butter for 20-30 minutes and to add curry leaves halfway through the process.  It’s also important NOT to stir the melted butter but to let it simmer unaided.  This helps to separate the milk proteins properly.  The curry leaves add a depth of flavor that I was missing all these years.  I have to say that this ghee smells and tastes even better than the famous “Baghabari Ghee”.  That’s one less thing that I have to hide in my luggage.

Melt butter over low heat

Heat for about 15 minutes before adding curry leaves to the melted butter

Heat another 15 minutes or so and when the liquid is clear with proteins separated in the bottom of the pan, take out the curry leaves

Strain out the proteins

The strained liquid should look clear with a nutty brown color

Ghee

How to make Ghee

1 pound unsalted butter

4-5 curry leaves

In a heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and let it simmer over very low heat.  Do not stir but keep an eye on the butter, when small brown chunks begin to appear on the bottom of the pan and the top part of the butter looks pretty clear (about 10-15 minutes) add curry leaves and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  When the top layer of butter looks light brown and very clear, take out the curry leaves and strain ghee through a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar.  Don’t throw away the brown protein bits.  Save them  to make Ghee Laddoos, a sweet treat made with the leftover protein (we don’t like to throw anything away).

Add chickpea and all-purpose flour along with sugar to the milk proteins leftover from making ghee

Ghee Laddoos

Ghee Laddoo

1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

In the same pan the ghee was made,  heat the browned leftover milk protein with 1/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan) and 1/4 cup of All-Purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar.  Cook over medium heat  until everything is a nutty brown color and the sugar has incorporated well.  Roll into small balls and enjoy.

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20 responses »

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  3. I make ghee myself just because buying organic grassfed ghee is so bloody expensive! Here I can get good grasfed butter form the farmer’s market easily, so I buy that and make ghee, plus ghee keeps much longer! Cool tip about the curry leaves and fenugreek seeds, will give that a go next time!

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  5. This is another great post, Tahmina! The addition of curry leaves to the butter when making ghee is just pure genius! Also, I think it’s so great that you use the browned milk proteins! Brilliant! I never knew that was how laddoo was made!

    • Thanks Daisy! The ghee done with the curry leaves turn out ah.ma.zing. These laddoos are specific to the ghee proteins that’s why they’re called ghee laddoos. Not all laddoos are made this way. Laddoo just means “round balls”, it also be used as a derogatory term for fat people. Which is why I’m doing P90X right now.

      • I bet it’s amazing. Yum! About how long does ghee keep in the fridge? Not like it would ever stay around for long . . .

        Ghee laddoos look awesome. If someone called me a ghee laddoo, I would show them a picture of this blog post and not be insulted!

  6. I JUST learned about ghee 2 weeks ago at a “Yoga of Nutrition” class. SO excited to try to make this!

  7. Fabulous post!!
    Got a big smile from your airline story. What else could you do but deny?
    I’ve been pretty happy with my ghee efforts but then I’ve never had the ghee in Bangladesh to compare it to. I’ve never added any spice at any point but will try the curry leaves next time.
    And if that great idea wasn’t enough, thanks for the yummy looking gluten free treat!
    Happy Monday!

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