Every month in 2016 I’ll share four recipes as part of Dr. John Douillard’s 3-Season Diet Challenge. My intention is to help you discover the glow we can feel – inside-out – when we eat with the rhythm of the seasons. Each new harvest brings us into balance with the sun, snow, warmth, cold and other changes in the natural world and in our bodies. Starting with this recipe, I invite you to join me in savoring this month’s flavors while experiencing the personal transformation that can come from this ancient Ayurvedic approach to food! (Find more 3-Season Diet Challenge recipes in the categories to the left (under “Recipes”) or in the search bar above.) Enjoy!
Ghee is one of those miraculous ingredients that bridges vastly different worlds. In India and other countries practicing Ayurvedic traditions, this butter-derived golden oil is praised for its practical, medicinal, ceremonial and spiritual properties. Ghee is used for cooking, and considered one of the safest and healthiest oils to heat because of its high smoking point. In other words, you can get ghee very hot before its beneficial qualities break down, rendered useless (or even harmful) to the body as occurs with olive and vegetable oils when heated. It has been used practically to light lamps, while simultaneously warding off evil spirits. It is ingested medicinally to wash toxins from the digestive tract (read Top Ten Reasons to Cleanse with Ghee) and applied as an ointment, moisturizer and massage oil. It would seem that such a powerful and revered substance is complex to make, but on the contrary, this is one of the easiest condiments to make at home and power your pantry.
Ghee is essentially a more caramelized clarified butter. It is made from unsalted butter, and it is always wise to start with blocks or tubs of the best quality. There are several local dairies in my region that produce fresh, creamy butter from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows. Look for these signs on the label – it will enhance the quality of your ghee and the taste of your food.
If you want to become better versed on Ghee, or are not yet convinced of the scientific benefits (as we Westerners tend to assess with a technical mind), Dr. John Douillard provides more in depth information on the cultural history and health benefits of Ghee. If you’re not feeling inclined to make it yourself, no worries! You can buy Ghee online. Your best bet buying it in your neighborhood is at a Coop or Indian Grocery Store. But I have a hunch that if you take a stab, you’ll find yourself in a pleasant Ghee rhythm once a month. Once made, ghee can be stored, unrefrigerated, in a glass jar.
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When making ghee, try to use butter made from grass-fed, hormone-free cows, ideally in your neck of the neighborhood.
If you're pinched for time, you can buy ghee online or at your local health food store.
- Unsalted butter - 1 pound
- Place the butter in a saucepan and melt it slowly over medium-low heat.
- Within a few minutes, the butter will begin to separate into three layers: foam will surface on the top, milk solids will fall to the bottom and clarified butter will float in the middle.
- Let the butter simmer until the middle layer becomes fragrant and golden in hue. Push the foam to the side to observe the color. The milk solids at the bottom will also begin to brown.
- You can continue to let the solids brown or begin to process the ghee. The longer it simmers, the richer it will be in flavor, but it is done when you have three separate layers.
- Use a spoon or strainer to skim the top layer of foam into a bowl.
- Turn off the heat and let the ghee settle.
- Carefully pour the clear, golden middle layer - the ghee - through a strainer into a sterilized glass jar or bowl, leaving the milk solids in the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the ghee with an airtight lid and store at room temperature for weeks.