Ghee: Indian Clarified Butter

Serves 8

  • Makes about 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • In a heavy, preferably light-colored skillet melt the butter over medium-low heat. The melted butter will sputter gently as the moisture boils out of it, and the bubbles will change from large to fine and foamy.
  • Once the foam appears, push it aside every few seconds to see if the milk solids have settled to the bottom of the pan. When this sediment appears golden brown, remove it from the heat. Do not let it turn dark brown.
  • Cool the ghee for a minute or two, then pour the liquid into a container with a tight-fitting lid, leaving most of the solids behind. Cool it completely, cover, and store at room temperature for 1 month or in the refrigerator for 3 months.
  • Ghee turns to a solid as it cools so bring it to room temperature before using or melt it by placing the jar in which it is stored in hot water.

 

This form of clarified butter has a nutty taste and a long shelf life. It is used as a frying medium throughout India and has a richer flavor than oil. In the south it is as indispensable a companion to rice and dhal as butter is to bread. I avoid store-bought ghee because making it is simple and tastier. Ghee will keep for months and is great to have on hand as a substitute for oil or butter in non-Indian cooking too. Try using it for sautéing vegetables or smearing on warm bread.

 

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