OK, I admit it. I love fat. So every couple of weeks I devote myself to making a special kind of fat and my favorite – ghee. In a 15 minute orgy of sensuality, I take in the sound of bubbling butter, savoring over the popcorn-like aroma, listening for the time when my best friend of the moment – ghee – tells me it is ready. Then, I strain it through cheesecloth, let it cool, then store it to be lusted after for the next couple of weeks. In case you are wondering, I tip the scales at a normal weight and my cholesterol numbers are good. Just ask my doctor.
Ghee is purified butter whose origins come from the country of India, where it is commonly used. Though Western culture has a love-hate relationship with fats, oils, butters, and they-are-almost-butters, Ayurveda has been promoting its use for millennia. Listen to what he says about ghee in the Charaka Samhita, a centuries old text: “Out of all the oils fit for human consumption, ghee is the best to eat.” If there is a healthy fat, it is ghee. It serves as both food and medicine, nourishing the body’s tissues, cleansing toxins from your system, lowering cholesterol, and is a general source of vitality.
My mother first introduced me to ghee as a child, when she had discovered the benefits of Ayurveda and began including it as part of the family meal. Memories of coming home to its rich aroma are still with me. Last year as a student at AVN Narogya Ayurvetic Hospital in Madurai, India, those memories came back to me as the ghee cleanse was being used on patients as part of their panchakarma treatments.
Western thought about using fat to detoxify someone is so opposed to the Eastern reasoning that it seems to defy logic. Recent studies have shown that using fat to remove fat-soluble toxins is an approach that returns excellent results. This is what is called the Ayurvedic methodology to remove, for example, heavy metals from fertilizers that are absorbed into vegetables and then consumed. The modern and popular treatments that involve water are only able to remove water-soluble toxins. Moreover, a lack of fat in the body is detrimental to the health of the brain.
The final selling point is that fat simply makes your food taste better. One reason for the curries sold at Indian restaurants being better tasting than your homemade style is because ghee is the essential fat ingredient. It is the primary cooking fat for Indian cooking.
I trust you can make your own ghee at home. Though it is available at many supermarkets, cooking your own will fill the house with that unmistakable aroma, and is easier and cheaper than the store bought.
Here is the recipe:
1 lb. unsalted organic butter
Place the butter in a deep, stainless steel pot over a medium heat. Do not leave the butter to cook by itself – stay by the stove. While the butter is melting, prepare a sieve lined with the cheesecloth and an airtight, sealed glass container where the butter will be strained into.
The butter will boil in only a few minutes. Allow it to boil for a while longer, as you will see a foam develop on top of the ghee. This will boil off in a few minutes. The sound of the bubbling will change to a crackle, somewhere between 7 and 10 minutes after it first starts boiling. At the bottom of the pot you will see brown solids forming.
Immediately remove the ghee from the stove and pour it through the cheesecloth while still hot into the glass container. After allowing it to cool, you may either store it at room temperature or refrigerate it. It is very versatile, as you can spread it on bread, use it for cooking, or use it as a topping for your vegetables to ensure you get your daily quota of fat for your body.
What do you think?