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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ghee (Tup) - Clarified Butter/Brown Butter

A lot of Indian recipes call for the use of "ghee". As I experiment with and explore new cuisines, I have come to the realization that many other cuisines use this ingredient as well. A great example is brown butter sauce. The french call it "Beurre noisette", which is nothing but ghee without separating out the milk solids. Ghee is pure fat, and is made from butter. I remember my childhood days, when Mom used to collect the top creamy layer from milk everyday and keep it aside. Eventually, she used to process this to make butter.  This homemade butter is possibly the purest and tastiest form of butter. White like snow, soft, and very, well buttery. She then used to heat the butter to transform this into homemade "ghee". The house used to be filled with the aroma of this wonderful ghee and I used to wait to eat the solids that used to collect at the bottom of the cooking pan. It used to be a special treat that I used to eagerly look forward to.

A dollop of ghee added to something as simple as hot steaming rice or dal or even applied on a hot chapati enhances the taste. Add ghee to a curry or spicy dal preparation and take it to a new level. It is recommended that delicacies, whether sweet or spicy, be cooked in ghee to make the dish all the more special. Ghee is an integral part of the Indian cuisine, and is so easy to make at home. Since, in the US, milk is homogenized, it is not easily possible to separate out the cream from the milk. So, we skip the collection of cream process and start directly with butter as the main ingredient. The overall preparation time is roughly ten minutes or less for about a pound of butter. Hope this very easy method inspires you to make ghee at home.

1/2 - 1 pound of butter (1-2 cups)

In a deep cooking pan melt the butter. As it melts, it will begin to foam and you can get melted butter smell. Keep an eye on the butter and stir it around occasionally. It will start changing color and turning slightly golden as it comes to a boil. At this stage, it will begin to foam again. Check if the butter has turned golden in color. If so, turn off the heat and remove it from the stove. You will also get tthe smell of ghee at this stage. After the foam subsides, you will be left with golden clean liquid and brown milk solids at the bottom of the pan. Gently pour the liquid through a fine metal sieve (plastic will melt) or a fine cheesecloth. The liquid is "clarified butter" or "ghee". Put the lid on the storage container once the ghee has cooled down completely. Keep it moisture free and it should last without refrigeration.

The pan should be deep enough so that the butter doesn't overflow as it boils and foams.
If you have used unsalted butter, you can add a spoon of sugar and enjoy the milk solids.You can also use salted butter, if you cannot find unsalted butter. The salt sinks into the milk solids and you can easily separate the ghee from the salty solids once the solids settle to the bottom of the pan. Once the ghee starts to foam the second time around, it is really vital that you pay attention and remove the ghee from the heat, as soon as it turns a golden brown. It is at this time, where you can easily end up burning the ghee. To use the ghee as brown butter, do not separate solids and the liquid after the ghee is formed. Mix if up and serve as brown butter or beurre noisette.
In cooler months, ghee will tend to solidify, so you can heat it before use or serving.


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