Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen


The Indian Kitchen: Ghee

by Kate Heyhoe


Ghee, a Hindi word, is actually clarified butter and adds a nutty, toasted flavor to Indian foods. Not all recipes call for ghee, some use vegetable oil, but if you wish to try it then look for it at Asian or Indian markets.


Ghee is very simple to make at home. Melt 1/2 pound of unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat and allow it to cook until all the water has evaporated (this may take 45 minutes). You should be left with only butterfat and milk solids. Skim off the milk solid curds ontop of the ghee then strain it through several layers of cheesecloth and seal in a clean jar. Ghee should be lemon-yellow in color and totally clear, although it may thicken and cloud up after cooling. When made properly, ghee does not need refrigeration, although that does not harm it, but it should be stored in a cool, dark place. It will last up to one month. Makes 1-1/2 cups ghee.

A small spoonful of ghee adds rich flavor to any dish. Spoon it on vegetables, lentil dals, rice and meat dishes. Because the milk solids are removed, it also has a higher smoking point than butter which will burn at high temperatures.

Here's a recipe using ghee:

Pulao Rice

Ingredients (4 servings)

1-1/3 c Long Grain Rice
1/4 c Ghee or Butter
2 md Onion, Sliced
1 Clove Garlic, Crushed
1-1/2 ts Salt
1-1/2 c Peas
2-1/2 c Hot Water


Clean, wash and soak rice for a half hour. Heat the ghee and fry the onions until golden. Add the drained rice, garlic, salt and peas and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the hot water, blending thoroughly, and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

NOTE: Any of the following can be added: Cloves, Cinnamon, Caraway Seeds, Tumeric, Ginger, Red Pepper, Coriander, Parsley, Garam Masala or Cumin.

From How To Make Good Curries by Helen Lawson. Copyright © 1973.

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This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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