Photo: Shutterstock / espies
You’ve probably seen ghee used in a variety of ways on your Facebook or Instagram feeds, or seen your friends or fit foodie influencers posting about incorporating it into a coffee recipe or the latest healthy dish. (Psst! On a health-kick? Try our 7-day sugar-free meal plan.) But what makes it different from butter, you may ask? We’re here to “clarify” it for you.
What is ghee?
Commonly referred to as liquid gold, aka clarified butter, ghee is a versatile way to add flavor depth to an assortment of recipes. Butter is made of three key components—whey, casein and butterfat—and through the process of clarifying butter, only pure butterfat remains. Ghee is cooked just slightly longer than regular clarified butter through the same simple process.
So where did the name come from? Originating in Indian and Pakistani cultures, dating back thousands of years, the word ghee comes from the meaning of the Sanskrit word for “sprinkled.”
Ghee was originally created to prevent butter from going bad in the hot weather, and because the milk solids have been removed, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. You will find that it is generally stable at room temperature, with a texture similar to coconut oil.
How should I use it?
Since ghee has a higher smoke point than regular butter or cooking oils, it’s a smart alternative for slow-cooking recipes like roasted veggies or high-heat dishes like stir-fry. Thanks to it being pure butterfat, it allows favorite baked goods to bake and brown more evenly. Has your homemade hollandaise sauce not turned out quite right in the past? Try using ghee in place of the normal butter for a far creamier consistency. Using ghee in a recipe will add an even sweeter and nuttier taste to an already-delicious dish.
Research is still being conducted on the health benefits of ghee. But if you have dairy sensitivities and miss the richness that butter provides, incorporating ghee into your cooking might be something to try.
Where can I get it?
Since ghee is becoming more popular, it’s more readily available, especially at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or the like. You can find it online if it’s not in stores near you.