Ghee – the powerhouse used in Indian cooking

Ghee is clarified butter with its milk solids and water removed. It occupies an important position in an Indian pantry. According to Ayurveda – India’s nutritional sciences, Ghee (clarified butter) used in moderation is the best oil for cooking for many reasons. Simmering unsalted butter in a large pot until all water has boiled off and protein has settled to the bottom makes ghee and the cooked and clarified butter is then spooned off to avoid disturbing the milk solids on the bottom of the pan. Unlike butter, ghee can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation and remains moisture-free.

According to ancient medicinal science of India Ayurveda, the ingestion of Ghee is like offering the finest of fuels into the fires of digestion-Agni and in accord with this, Ghee builds the aura, makes all the organs soft, builds up the internal juices of the body-Rasa, which are destroyed by aging and increases the most refined element of digestion-Shukra or Ojas, the underlying basis of all immunity and the “essence of all bodily tissues”. One of the Ayurvedic experts calls Ghee the “single most ojas producing food on earth”. Ghee is known to increase intelligence–Dhi, refine the intellect-Buddhi and improve the memory-Smrti.

Other ghee benefits include it has a high smoking point and is excellent for frying unlike vegetable oils and also it increases the medicinal properties of spices when spices are saut̩ed in it. According to Ayurveda Рit is more alkaline than other oils and this results in a smoother skin tone and makes one look younger and one needs less ghee (half or two-thirds) as compared to oil to achieve the same goals.

There is one very important difference in the way Ghee was and is made in India. The Indians start out with milk from a cow, just like in America. But, they do not let the cream rise to the top and skim it off as we do in the West, instead, and here comes the key difference- they culture the milk with yogurt, allowing it to sit for 4-5 hours, just before it becomes completely soured. Then they churn the whole milk. From that point on, the process is more or less the same and this culturing with yogurt introduces another form of Fire-Agni into the substance of refining the milk into butter and then Ghee.

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