Get To Know Ghee: Why + How To Use This Wonder Food

Written by Puneet Nanda

I used to be a type A entrepreneur with a hard-charging lifestyle that nearly ruined my health. I decided to retreat from that approach and rediscovered the yoga I loved as a child in India.

I also moved away from my junk and fast food habits that left me 40 pounds overweight and completely lethargic. Instead, I adopted a healthier, more conscious style of eating based on Ayurvedic principles.

Using ghee in everyday cooking instead of regular butter or hydrogenated, processed, so-called “healthy oils” has been part of my transformation and journey back to optimal health. Of course, it helps that it’s delicious too!

What is ghee?

Ghee is a shelf-stable form of clarified butter. It's been used for centuries in the traditional cuisine of India, where it's also prized for its wellness benefits. The uses for this versatile ingredient, sometimes called “Ayurvedic gold”, extend to kitchens everywhere.

It has a high smoke point and a rich, nutty flavor. It's healthy, doesn't need to be refrigerated, and provides excellent natural flavoring.

How is ghee made?

Ghee is made by melting pure sweet cream butter until water completely evaporates and milk solids are separated out.

It's a close cousin of clarified butter, but it's cooked longer, resulting in a deeper, “nutty” flavor. It's also shelf-stable and doesn't need to be refrigerated.

When purchasing ghee, make sure to read ingredients labels to ensure that there is no sodium, preservatives, artificial coloring or flavoring.

Why does it belong in your kitchen?

1. Because of its deep, concentrated flavor, less can be used. One tablespoon of ghee can replace up to three tablespoons of oil or butter in a recipe.

2. Ghee has a much higher smoke point than plain butter and many cooking oils, making it ideal for baking, frying or sautéing.

3. It's dairy-free and compatible with lactose-intolerant diets as well as gluten-free and paleo diets.

4. It's rich in vitamins and antioxidants, as well as in linoleic acid, a fatty acid known to be protective against carcinogens, artery plaque and diabetes. It's also chock full of butyric acid, a monounsaturated fat that helps reduce inflammation.

5. Ghee contains a combination of saturated and unsaturated fats and includes short-chained fats, making it easy to digest (unlike other culinary fats).

6. Having ghee on hand eliminates the step of clarifying butter yourself, when a recipe calls for it and it's great for both sweet and savory dishes.

How can I use ghee?

  • Spread on toast
  • Drizzled on popcorn
  • For sautéing vegetables
  • For searing meat
  • In any recipe that calls for clarified or drawn butter

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