Right since childhood, our parents urge us to consume ghee, or clarified butter. Using it as a ‘topping’ on our everyday meals, or even using it to prepare Indian sweets, ghee has been an accompaniment for almost every kind of food.
Ayurveda places great importance on the benefits of ghee for our health – every part of our body benefits from ghee, in some way or the other. Practitioners advice every age-group to consume ghee and benefit from its many virtues. In fact, the West has also woken up to the miracles of this golden beauty!
So, what is it that makes this pride of our culture such an important part of our diet?
Let us look at the top 5 benefits of Ghee.
1 Easy to digest:
I have never known about Lactose Intolerance because I have never experienced it, ever, but, I have heard that Ghee can be had by those who are Lactose Intolerant! Why? Because of its method of preparation.
Butter is heated and the milk solids and impurities get separated, leaving behind a golden liquid that has no effect on those sensitive to Lactose, thus making it safe for them to consume.
2 Helps in digestion:
The first advice, when one complains of constipation or indigestion in my family, has been to drink a cup of warm milk with ghee before going to bed.
Ghee, I have learnt, is a source of ‘Butyrate’, a fatty acid necessary to support a healthy digestive system. It provides energy to the colon cells, and helps support healthy microbes in the gastrointestinal tract to enhance digestion and elimination.
3 Strengthens our bones:
I believe our ancestors were far more healthier than we are in today’s age. They consumed ghee on a daily basis, which supplied them with all the necessary vitamins their bones required to keep them stronger even in their old age.
Ghee has Vitamin K, a vital nutrient responsible for maintaining bone-health. Believe me, I used to give my arthritic pet dog a spoonful of ghee everyday to help him get some relief from his painful joints!
To put it simply, ghee provides the lubrication our joints require to work smoothly! Easier to comprehend, isn’t it?
4 Helps in healthy weight loss:
Oh yes! Ghee does that, you know? Contrary to popular beliefs, ghee does help lose weight in a healthy way! Every time we grimace at our mother’s suggestion to apply some ghee to our chapatis, fearing we might put on the kilos, we are actually doing more harm than good to our bodies.
The friendly triglycerides found in ghee actually help decrease weight as opposed to those bad ones found in vanaspati and other oils (which we consume along with the junk food we eat to avoid lunch!).
So, the next time you measure your ‘vital stats’ and find it more than the ‘ideal’, bring the ghee jar to the table and have a spoonful. Every day. That will help you cut the inches off your tummy, your hips and your thighs. Oh, and do include a workout, too!
5 Keeps skin healthy and glowing:
Every winter, when my skin dries, I waste money on buying those useless Vaseline jars that do nothing but give me temporary relief. What does work, though, in combatting the dryness, is my trusted ghee. In spite of knowing this, I wonder why I buy that Vaseline jar!
Applying ghee to chapped lips, or dry skin will give you a smooth, well moisturised skin.
Consuming ghee along with a cup of warm milk also helps keep your skin well-nourished and keeps dryness at bay.
Apart from these benefits, ghee also helps soothe burns, or wounds. My granny used to regale us with stories of kings and their brave soldiers who would heal their wounds during war by applying ghee. “They didn’t have all these fancy medicines you people get these days. For them, ghee was the panacea for every ailment!” she would add, proudly.
Ghee is also known to be good for eye-sight, for lustrous hair, skin and nails, and for memory, too! Hmm…that explains why I remember incidents that happened way back, in my childhood! Not kidding!
How do you prepare ghee at home?
I usually use buffalo milk as it gives me thicker cream. However, Ayurveda practitioners as well as dieticians prescribe cow milk and cow ghee.
Preparing ghee is really simple.
Collect the cream daily from the milk you boil and store it in the fridge till you have enough for preparing the ghee. Maybe, it might take a week’s time to collect enough cream for the ghee.
Once you have enough cream, bring it out of the fridge, add some curd, or dahi, to it and leave it at room temperature for five to six hours.
I churn it with a wooden ravi that we get especially to churn the cream, but, you could use a blender.
Add a cup of cold water to the cream, put it all in the blender and run it for a few minutes till you see the butter surfacing to the top and the thin buttermilk at the bottom.
Separate the butter from the buttermilk gently with your hand. Gather the butter slowly into a ball and transfer it to another bowl.
The thin buttermilk that remains can go back into the fridge to be had after meals. And, the butter goes into a thick-bottomed pan (if you want to prepare ghee right then) to be placed on the stove and boiled till the milk solids separate and settle to the bottom.
Stand by the stove as the butter melts and heats. It needs all your attention and love to give you what you seek from it!
Once the milk solids settle to the bottom, let the ghee turn nice and golden and the milk solids, brown.
Switch off the stove and allow it to cool.
Strain the ghee into a jar and once cool, close it with a lid.
The ‘burnt’ milk solids (which we call ‘bery’) can be eaten as is or with sugar or with chapati, or added to rice and dal.
The ghee need not be stored in the fridge. It stays well at room temperature for a couple of months. Though, if you fall in love with ghee and eat it everyday, I doubt it will last a month. Kids, generally, love it. So, beware, they might love playing the naughty Lord Krishna and wipe clean the jar in days!
So, that’s it about this golden miracle we call, ‘Ghee’.
Do you use it in your daily diet?