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Better with Butter

May 11, 2009


Making ghee is a cinch and well-worth the small amount of time and effort it takes. As I said in my post about dal, ghee will vastly improve the flavor of your home-cooked Indian meals. It tastes nutty and deep and smells like nothing more than fresh caramel.

I really recommend that you make your own ghee. First of all, store-bought ghee is a rip-off. Ghee is made from butter, and there’s no reason you need pay more for it than you’d pay for butter. Secondly, I’ve peeked at the ghee on the store shelves, and it’s far lighter in color than I am comfortable with. A good ghee should be golden. A deep, rich golden, indicative of its caramelized flavor. I just can’t truck with that light yellow ghee. Why, that ghee is nothing but clarified butter!

What’s the difference between ghee and clarified butter? You say.

The difference is essential! Say I.

It’s all about when you stop the process. Clarifying butter means heating it until water becomes steam and the milk solids separate out, and removing those solids, creating a butter that is 100% fat (regular butter is about 80% fat.) When developing this method, the French, or Fraunch as I like to say, stopped there, leaving a product that is pale yellow in color and has a delicate, subtle taste. The Indians, however, had a better idea, going so far as to caramelize the milk solids before they remove them, infusing the ghee with luxuriously nutty, sweet undertones.

So if you want the good stuff, do make your own ghee. Your Indian food will taste entirely delectable, and everyone you live with will come running to the kitchen to see what that intoxicating scent is. Including your cats, if you have any. They can smell simmering butter a mile away.

Ghee will keep in your fridge for…well, ever.


A pound of unsalted butter

1. Follow along with me. Please to ignore my dirty stove.


Melt the butter over low heat. Don’t rush. Let the butter simmer, but not boil violently. Low heat!


The butter will begin to foam. Move some of the foam aside with a spoon so you can see what’s going on underneath. See how the butter is becoming transparent now? It will be bubbling and making a lot of noise.


After about twenty minutes, the foam will thin out and the noise will die down, because all the water will have evaporated off. Start to pay very close attention now.

The milk solids on the bottom of the pan will begin to brown, and the liquid on top will begin to turn an amber color. An intoxicating aroma will begin to fill your kitchen.


When the solids have turned a deep reddish brown, remove the pot from heat and strain immediately through a funnel lined with a coffee filter, paper towel, or several layers of fine cheesecloth. If you leave the pot on the heat for too long, the solids will begin to burn very quickly, so watch it like a hawk!

There, sweet liquid, nectar of the cows.

Use it in good health.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2009 5:22 am

    This is so similar to making beurre noisette aka brown butter except that we don’t strain it. And I so agree with you that ghee makes a world of a difference in curries, roti pratas and dhosas ….Mmm

  2. May 14, 2009 5:11 am

    Man, I gotta find me some happy cow butter!

  3. ineke permalink
    June 8, 2009 11:10 pm

    I finally made this, love the smell of it! I was a bit worries that it would burn (electrive stove, the temperature is not easily adjustable) so I thought I might have strained it too early, but the colour turned out much the same as in the picture, so I guess it’s fine.
    I used it in a spinach leave stirfry with ginger, but didn’t really notice it much in the dish in the end, unfortunately. I’ll try it next in the dahl recipe below, to see if it makes more of a difference there!


  1. Homemade Ghee! « From Rednecklandia to the Emerald City

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