Growing up in a traditional Indian household, I became very familiar with the heavenly aroma of ghee coming from our kitchen as my mother crafted yet another wonderful meal to devour. I’ve noticed that ghee is slowly emerging as the next best superfood here in the Western World and is being celebrated for its many health benefits. While coconut oil went through a similar celebration, I like to think that ghee is the perfect oil out of the two. So exactly what makes ghee such a pivotal part of Indian cuisine and why should you begin cooking with it?
What is Ghee?
Ghee is a clarified butter which is the by-product of cow milk and is quite sacred to many cultures throughout the Eastern world. It is predominately used as a cooking fat, but also holds its place in Ayurvedic Medicine, given its powerful properties in healing the skin and dislodging impurities and toxins from the body. In fact, the list is endless in terms of its medicinal uses. Ghee is beginning to be recognised as a superfood as it holds a high concentration of healing vitamins and minerals.
How is it made?
Though you can buy ghee off the shelf, what I love about it is just how easy it is to make at home. By melting butter in a saucepan, it wont be long before it starts bubbling and foaming on top. As the butter cooks over a low heat, the milk solids rise to the top, which you’ll easily be able to recognise as an off-white fatty layer. At the end of the heating process, the liquid is poured into a glass mason jar covered with cheesecloth, which captures all of the milk solids and fats. What you’re left with is a rich and creamy ghee with an undeniably delicious aroma.
Move over coconut oil, there’s a new superfood in town!
In my eyes, ghee holds many distinct advantages over coconut oil, which has certainly had its fair share of time in the spotlight. In order for a food to be labelled as a superfood, it must contain vitamins and minerals that go beyond your basic daily needs. In other words, they should be your go-to for boosting your overall health and vitality.
Due to ghee’s high antioxidant capacity, it has been recognised as an important food component for decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Antioxidants help to remove toxins from the body and heal cellular damage caused by stress, environmental pollutants and poor food choices.
During the heating process, free fatty acids are released which only increases the health benefits of ghee, as these fatty acids become readily available. Ghee is a good source of vitamin A for vision and immunity, vitamin K for bone health and omega-3’s for reducing inflammation. Other great reasons for you to include ghee in your life are:
- It’s a natural source of butyric acid making it gut friendly. Butyric acid holds potent anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to heal particular types of cancer.
- Ghee has a lovely buttery taste and texture, while coconut oil is vastly different with a very coconuty taste; which is not always ideal for all styles of food, particularly more traditional dishes.
- If you’re lactose intolerant you will find that you can in fact enjoy ghee as the milk solids (which contains lactose and casein) has been removed. You can also reap in the health benefits of probiotics which are generated through the fermentation of ghee.
- Ghee is shelf stable making it suitable for everyone to use without the need to refrigerate.
- Ghee has short and medium chain triglycerides that promote weight loss and have also been shown to boost energy levels.
- The perfect “oil” to harmonise with herbs and spices and adds richness to many dishes.
- Ghee is much more suitable for cooking at high temperatures as the smoke point is around 250 degrees, while coconut oil should only be used at medium temperatures as its smoke point is about 177 degrees.
Ghee has played such a vital role in Eastern World cultures for thousands of years and it’s clear to see why its legacy remains strong today. I love that science is now able to prove what ancient cultures knew all along about the many health benefits of ghee. If I’m entirely honest, a pot of ghee is a permanent fixture in my kitchen; and probably will be for as long as I’m around.