Ghee is clarified butter. Water is boiled out of it, and milk solids are removed by straining. The oil that remains can be stored without refrigeration even in hot climates like India, where it originated. Ghee stored in a jar will stay fresh at room temperature for up to a year. It is an indispensable ingredient in Indian cooking, and traditional Ayurvedic practitioners recommend it as an important prescription for health. Many cultures have readily adapted the use of ghee.
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Cooking delicious omelettes that also look perfect -- firm but not browned -- is a snap with ghee, because it doesn't burn as rapidly as butter. Pour the eggs into the omelette pan and cook until they are firm on the outside. Then fold over the omelette and turn the heat down to finish cooking the centre. Or lift the pan off the fire after folding and set aside for a few minutes if you prefer a softer omelette.
Sautéing and Frying
Ghee is better than butter for sautéing, deep-frying, and pan-frying because there is no discolouration from the burning of milk solids contained in unclarified butter. The ideal temperature for sautéing or frying with ghee is between 121 and 191 degrees Celsius.
You can use ghee to make flaky pie crusts. For two 8-inch, whole-wheat pie crusts, mix together the following dry ingredients: one-half teaspoon salt, 1-1/3 cups of white flour and 1-1/3 cups of whole-wheat pastry flour. Blend in two-thirds cup melted ghee with pastry blender or fork. Add 4 tablespoons of cold water as you continue to blend. Roll dough out on pastry board.
Camping and Backpacking
A sealed plastic container of ghee will go a long way to boost the flavour of dehydrated camp food. It can also be used as cooking oil. Garlic and other herbs and spices can be added to the ghee for more exotic camp cuisine.
All-Around Food Enhancer
You don't need much ghee to perk up plain food. Spray or lightly drizzle it over rice, noodles, potatoes or steamed vegetables. Add freshly chopped herbs to a small bowl of ghee for a colourful garnish to whatever you are serving for dinner: skinless chicken breasts, fish, soup, beans or pasta. Use ghee as a base for condiments. Put ghee in a small frying pan with chillies, ginger, mustard, cardamom or other whole spice seeds and sauté until fragrant. Add it to your dish just before serving for an explosion of flavour. It's fabulous on popcorn.
Ghee is prescribed in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It is used for massage, taken orally for constipation and to maintain regularity, and applied to burns. It is used as a skin moisturiser and to relieve burning or irritation in the eyes. Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend ghee to treat gastritis or chronic peptic ulcer. It can be applied externally on bedsores for the hospital-bound or elderly.
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