Ghee (clarified butter) is undoubtedly the lifeline of Indian cuisine. We Indians use ghee in almost everything that we cook – curry (sabji), chapati, lentils, paranthas, laddus and so and so forth. Traditionally, ghee has been prepared, in some form or other, in all Indian households through milk; but now the usage of branded ghee has taken over. When we moved to London five years back, I found it hard to pick up a good quality ghee from the supermarket shelf; some well-known Indian brands were also available but the price premium was too high. I did try couple of local UK ones but failed to get the taste of pure ghee. But then I discovered the art of making ghee from (unsalted) butter – and I have not looked back again 🙂
The credit for this discovery goes to my darling friend Savy, who told me the use of unsalted butter for making ghee. She passed me the secret one day when I were moaning to her about the quality of ghee available in the UK – she told me that she only uses ghee which she prepares at home from unsalted butter. From then on I have started making ghee from unsalted butter. You can use any brand of unsalted butter and get pure ghee at home without much hassle – and at tenths of the price.
It is an easy process but you have to take care, if you are making it for the first time. Mainly there are three stages in the process of making ghee – first foaming, second bubbling and finally, foaming again.
So let’s get started to prepare some pure golden ghee at home.
Unsalted butter : 5 blocks (250 grams each)
Keep a heavy bottom, deep pan on the flame and put the unsalted butter one by one into the pan; let the butter melt on medium flame.
Within 5 minutes butter will get melted, resulting in a yellow coloured opaque liquid butter.
After 1-2 minutes of this, the fat will separate from the milk solid and, foaming and bubbling will start.
Don’t stir or take out this foam – this is the ghee fat, so don’t remove it. But do take care that foam does not come out of the pan (hence the need for a deep pan). If the foam comes out of pan then just scoop out the foam with the help of a spoon.
After some more time (8-10 minutes), the bubbling will increase and foam will become thin. The milk solid is white, sinking at the bottom and the liquid becomes transparent yellow in colour.
After 7-8 minutes more, the bubbles will get larger and the foam starts to disappear. Now the liquid has become golden in colour, and the bottom milk solids have turned brown in colour.
The aroma of ghee will hit our senses and eventually the foaming will start again – this indicates that your ghee is ready!
Switch off the flame, let it cool down a little and then strain through a stainer (chalni in Hindi).
Your absolutely pure, yellow, grainy and tastefully aromatic homemade ghee is ready to be served!
Store it in a glass or steel container for later use.
Insider Tips / Finer Points :
- You may use less/more quantity of unsalted butter as per your requirement; but do follow the same process as outlined above.
Keep the flame on medium while making ghee because ghee can burn quickly on high flame.
- Don’t throw the brown milk solids residue – you can add little sugar/cardamom in it and have it as a dessert (my hubby n daughter simply love it).
- You can also use the brown milk solids residue in place of khoya, in any curry; or use it to knead in the dough – the chapatis will become more soft.
- Don’t discard the white foam in case you have taken it out while preparing ghee in the first stage. Cook it in a microwave for 30-45 seconds and you will get the ghee out of it. Do it couple of times till you will get all the ghee and also the brown colour milk solids residue.
- Keep an eye during the last stage of the process, as the colour of ghee (golden) in this stage determines if the cooking was optimum. If you cook more than the ghee will turn brown in colour; you may still be able to use the ghee but it could have an accompanying burnt smell.