Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ghee vs. butter: Two siblings, rival

I love ghee, or clarified butter. For too long, ghee has been closeted or relegated to Indian cuisine. I grew up eating ghee in my home, and still love the incomparable flavor of pure ghee, and I think it could give butter a run for its money. I prefer the more delicate flavour of cow’s milk ghee to that made from buffalo milk. I am glad that ghee is finally emerging from the Indian pantry to win the hearts of Western cooks.

Recently, I read in Mint newspaper the column of a British baker and blogger who substituted pure ghee for butter in shortbread cookies (close cousins of nan khatai). She found the results more flavorful and crispy than what butter had earlier produced.

In the same newspaper, I read a few weeks ago another column, this one on healthy food, that provided a recipe for preparing ghee. Ah, making ghee from scratch! The recipe calls for cream skimmed off fresh milk over several days and cooking it until the ghee separates. Another way to make ghee (even though the article didn’t mention this) is to, well, clarify butter, especially unprocessed.

I remember my mother making ghee both ways when I was a boy. When she would make ghee from white, unprocessed butter, she would ask me to go tear some leaves from a lime tree growing in our backyard. She would put a few in the sizzling butter to infuse the ghee with a limey flavour. How I long for the heavenly fat!

Which of the fats do you prefer?