The first thing I want to tell you about ghee is that it is way easier to make than you might imagine. The seemingly mysterious alchemy of turning butter into this versatile, delicious fat with it’s distinctly nutty/toffee-like aroma and taste, put me off making ghee for a long time. But no! I am here to tell you that it is quick and easy to make and once you start, you will wonder how you ever managed without ghee in your life!
Ghee is simply butter that has been cooked gently until the water content evaporates and the milk solids either rise to the top where they are skimmed off, or sink to the bottom where they caramelise as the butterfat is simmered, leaving the ghee with its particular nutty flavour.
Ghee has a long history and in India, it is considered sacred and used in religious rituals as well as in the diet. It is used therapeutically in the Ayurvedic tradition where it is thought to promote longevity, protect against diseases, support digestion and nourishes ‘ojas’, the subtle essence of the body’s tissues. It is considered to be a connective tissue lubricant and to support the brain and nervous system.
Yogi Bhajan strongly promoted the use of ghee and suggested that it should be the oil of choice for men, being very good for male potency. For women, he recommended almonds in their skins sautéed in ghee and eaten with honey as a restorative breakfast in the first few days of the menstrual cycle and after childbirth. And for children, Yogi Bhajan advocated keeping hunger at bay by adding a spoon of ghee to steamed vegetables or mung beans and rice.
There may not be a lot of documented research into the possibility of ghee having special health benefits over and above some other fats, however, we can be sure of the following:
- It has a long shelf life: The clarification of the ghee means that it does not go rancid easily, lasting around 3 months on the counter top and up to a year if kept in the fridge.
- It has a high smoke point: Meaning that you can cook with it at higher temperatures without it smoking and breaking down, losing it’s nutritional value and creating free radicals.
- It’s lactose free: Because the milk solids have been removed, it is easier to digest for those who are lactose intolerant.
- Increases bioavailability and absorption: Some vitamins and minerals need fat-rich foods like ghee in order to be taken up by the body.
Keeping in mind that ghee is still a saturated fat and should be eaten in moderation, it can be a really yummy and useful addition to your diet. Cook with it, spread it on toast and jazz up your veg!
YOGIC NUTRITION is a regular feature written by Anna Ranprem Kaur, a Kundalini Yoga teacher with more than eight years of experience, now also in her second year of a diploma in Nutrition Therapy and Naturopathy. In this monthly blog, Anna will share knowledge and explorations as she moves forward on her journey in nutrition. www.annakundaliniyoga.co.uk