For decades now - clarified butter or ghee is an essential part of Indian cooking. It is widely used in religious ceremonies and in Ayurvedic medicines. There has been a lot of research and debate on whether Ghee is directly or indirectly the cause of heart disease. Ghee is to Indians what butter and margarine is to Americans. Ghee is also known as "drawn butter."
When butter is melted over a low heat and all the water has been allowed to evaporate while the milk protein forms a solid mass at the bottom of the pan. The pale yellow liquid thus got is ghee or clarified butter. It has a very high smoking point and a nutty flavor.
For people who are allergic to lactose and cannot tolerate butter - ghee is a good choice as all the milk proteins are burned away. It does not have any hydrogenated oils so it is free of trans- fats and preservatives.
Even today ghee plays an important role in ayurvedic remedies and medicine. During the early days when science had yet to develop creams for burns and blisters, ghee was applied and proved to be a cooling effect on the burns and blisters.
It is believed that ghee stimulates the secretion of stomach acids and thus aids indigestion. Ghee is known to prevent the formation of ulcers and prevents constipation. Using ghee in our diet encourages good skin and healthy eyes.
It is said to be beneficial in an improved memory and ability to learn. Ghee has a number of anti oxidants which help in strengthening the immune system and retards ageing.
Ghee is used externally as a massage medium and helps alleviate dry skin and arthritis and removes toxins from tissues.
Ghee does not turn rancid while cooking due to its high smoke point that is between 400 - 500 degrees F. It does not need refrigeration as it has a very long shelf life.
As we all know that ghee has large amounts of saturated fat, so used in excess can lead to high cholesterol resulting in heart problems. 4 teaspoons of butter constitute 1 teaspoon of ghee. It has to be used prudently, moderately and wisely to gain all the benefits one can, from this pale yellow liquid gold.