How to make ghee (Indian clarified butter)

Ghee has always been part of my life. I can recall my mum feeding me ghee and rice with a little salt when I was a young kid, telling me its brain food. She’s not far off from the truth. Besides, ghee and rice is yummy – I didn’t need much convincing to eat it! 😉

Technically, ghee is a type of clarified butter. But it’s not just any old type of clarified butter: all milk solids (including lactose) and moisture must be removed before it can become ghee (clarified butter that still retains some moisture and milk solids is not ghee).

Ghee is a staple in Indian cooking, and is highly nourishing ­– it encourages the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, and contains fat-soluble vitamins, like A and D, which are beneficial for eye and bone health. Since ghee doesn’t contain any lactose, it’s suitable for those who are lactose intolerant too.

Although I may not indulge in eating ghee the way I did when I was younger, it’s still very much part of my life. I mostly add to dhal at the end of the cooking stage. Just a dollop can add a silky deliciousness. A taste that always takes me to the memories of my mum feeding me.

Recipe

ghee 4Ingredients

  • 1kg unsalted butter (my preferred brand is B.D. Paris Creek)

Method

In a heavy-based pot, melt the butter and bring it to a gentle boil. Then turn down the heat to let it simmer for about 60 minutes, maybe even longer. The simmering time varies because the moisture content of butter varies from brand to brand, and even from batch to batch (the aim is to get rid of all the moisture). You will need to simmer the butter until it becomes clear and the milk solids should become slightly brown and sink to the bottom – some solids may stick together and float to the top.

Let the ghee cool, discarding any milk solids that are floating on the top (just use a spoon). Then strain the ghee through a sieve lined with at least 3–4 of layers of muslin cloth (cheesecloth) into a glass jar. As you strain, leave as much of the solids as you can at the bottom of the pot.

How to use ghee

Ghee has a high smoking point and can be used for sautéing, and deep and shallow frying. It won’t burn like butter, as the milk solids have been removed. You can also use a mix of oil and ghee for cooking. Some like to spread ghee on freshly made roti (Indian flat bread) – yum!

Another way to enjoy ghee is to add a tablespoon or so to soups, dhal, risotto, pasta, rice, and steamed vegetables, like you would butter.

How to store ghee

If all the moisture content and milk solids are removed, ghee will keep indefinitely, even at room temperature (at room temperature ghee is semisolid). But if you’re not sure, it’s best to store it in the fridge.

15 thoughts on “How to make ghee (Indian clarified butter)

  1. Ganga108 says:

    Thanks for being such a good sport about my passion and crusade to have ghee properly labeled. The clarifying process with ghee is taken much much further than is used for clarified butter. It removes all milk solids and water so that only a very pure oil remains. The taste, colour and smell of ghee is very different to clarified butter. It is healthier and can reach high cooking temperatures without problem.

    So even though the process begins similarly, ghee takes it so much further and produces a wonderful and healthy product. Clarified butter takes a few moments to make, Ghee takes 20 mins if using about 500g of butter, and much longer if using larger amounts.

    Thanks again!

    • Lesh @ TheMindfulFoodie says:

      No worries, Ganga. Technically, ghee is a type of clarified butter (the ultimate type with all the moisture a and solids removed), but, as you say, not all clarified butter can be called ghee. Appreciate you coming by and sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  2. Sherilyn @ Wholepromise says:

    Thanks for sharing. I think a lot of people have phobias about ghee or fat in general and don’t realise that in moderation its use is to our benefit. Thanks for pointing out about the BPA in the lining of the cans. I wasn’t aware. Look forward to reading about that soon.

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe Lesh. Could you please let me know how you did this in the TMX? I have only had my machine for 2 days but I’m keen to give ghee a go. Thanks

    • The Mindful Foodie says:

      Hi Sarah, I had followed the recipe in the Thermomix Indian cookbook. But it’s not a good recipe as it only cooks the butter for 7 minutes, which is not long enough to make ghee. Here is a thread from the thermomix forum on the subject: http://www.forumthermomix.com/index.php?topic=1615.15

      I think it’s a bit of trial and error but you could cook 250g butter at 60C for 25–30 minutes at spoon speed, and see how you go. You want the milk solids to be slightly caramelised and the liquid ghee to be clear, and a slightly golden colour. That’s what you’re looking for.
      Hope this helps.

  4. Lorelle says:

    Hiya Lesh, thanks so much for the thermomix link – I love my thermomix and would prefer to cook all that I can in it first time around rather than having to adapt things, as I don’t seem to adapt very well!!
    Love your work!

  5. Kel says:

    HI Lesh! I’ve not had ghee before, so before I go melting all my butter, does it just taste like normal butter? And can I use it just the same as butter, ie for spreading on toast and things?

    Cheers 🙂

    • Lesh says:

      Hi Kel, it has a slightly different taste and texture to butter ~ I love it, since I grew up eating it. You can definitely spread it on toast and use it in baking. 🙂

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