Food is a tricky topic. Especially, if you are trying to talk, explain and vouch by the benefits of traditional foods - it makes it even more complicated. Even then let’s try. Now, let’s make a list of all those ingredients making a comeback on to our kitchen shelves – hand pounded rice, cold-pressed cooking oils, unpolished pulses and the list is endless but hey wait! where’s desi ghee?
Also Read: 6 Secret Benefits Of Adding Ghee To Your Diet
Desi ghee? How is it different from regular ghee? Why is it so special and how did it earn the precursor ‘Desi?’ Well. First things first. To put it precisely, desi ghee is made from pure cow’s milk. It is produced after enormous churning of buttermilk and heating butter at the right temperature, in a traditional method for that aromatic and rich flavour.
Alright. If you thought, it’s interesting, let’s talk more about own desi ghee or just clarified butter as they simply put it in English. And again if you are wondering if the desi ghee too claimed its position back and if it is actually healthy - in the next few paragraphs, we will be busting numerous myths associated with that golden colour, clear liquid with occasional solidified content floating around – and why, you should be making it a part of your staple diet, right now!
There is no denying that ghee or ghrita, as they say in Sanskrit is our own Indian invention. Each tiny drop has been nurturing mankind for a countless number of generations, occupying an important role in rituals, as an integral part of ancient medicine Ayurveda eventually becoming an inseparable part of our lives.
The word ghee is coined from the Sanskrit word ghr- which means sprinkle and in Southern parts of India it is widely known as Neyyi. Ghee occupies an imperative position be it in Vedic rituals, marriages, religious customs and varied cuisines across India, Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries.
Desi Ghee In Traditional Texts:
Hindu Vedic text Yajurveda mentions ghee, made from pure cow’s milk as a sacred ingredient, a must-have in all homams, yagnas and is offered to agni (fire) and various deities, during rituals.
The epics Mahabharata and Bhagavata are incomplete without the mention of desi ghee, as Kauravas were believed to be nurtured as foetuses in a pot filled with ghee, while the stories of little Krishna and his friends drooling over ghee and other dairy products have always remained a delight for the devotees.
Muslims believe ghee from grass-fed cows is both a shifaa (cure) and dawaa (medicine) for its wide range of health and medicinal properties. It is also interesting to note that Buddhism attributes ‘ghee’ to the highest order of learning, often comparing it to the last of five flavours in dairy – milk, cream or malai, curdled milk, butter and then ghee to Lotus and Nirvana sutras – the tallest among all teachings.
Traditional Indian medicine suggests lighting diyas, by dipping wicks made from pure cotton, in ghee to kill viruses, bacteria and other contaminants in the air, in the evening hours especially during rainy and winter seasons.
Desi Ghee in Cuisines:
The presence of desi ghee in our daily life is humongous even today, with every foodie reaching out for a spoonful of this dairy wonder, to top their dishes. South Indians swear by their, ‘Ghee roast’ the crispy dosas, fluffy idlis dipped in freshly brewed ‘neyyi,’ while for North Indians, puranpoli, parathas, rotis, biriyani, kichidi and not to forget halwas, laddus are just incomplete, without generous dollops of ghee.
In many Indian families, serving food with freshly melted ghee is a sign of pride, affection and it is a common sight in our families, mothers and grandmothers insisting upon their children to add more ghee to their diet.
Like all other traditional foods, Desi Ghee too went through few grim years in the last one decade but all thanks to the awareness being created by celebrities, nutritional experts, it is regaining its glory. From being labelled as unhealthy, fatty, a major contributor to weight gain, it is now trending as a superfood and before we plunge into myths and facts associated with desi ghee, let’s know, how exactly it is made.
Also Read: Pure Ghee Is A Storehouse Of Nutrients
How To Make Desi Ghee?
Desi ghee is made from A2 milk and it is procured from Indian grass-fed cows with A2A2 gene. This milk does not contain A1 protein and contains only A2 beta-casein and according to studies, A2 milk is far healthier than other types of milk.
It is not just the process, but ingredients too, differ from desi ghee to other ghee types. In other ghee, there could be possible amounts of vegetable trans fat, which are harmful for health.
4 Litres of A2 milk
Desi ghee is made by using bilona or vilona method as mentioned in Ayurveda. Under this elaborate process, milk is boiled and cooled. It is then added with half a spoon of curd and kept overnight under room temperature to form into curd.
The curd is then churned into buttermilk and butter that floats on the pot is collected into a thick bottomed vessel. It is then boiled on low flame and the water gets evaporated, leaving aromatic ghee behind. In a few families, it is a practice to add betel nut leaf to the boiling butter to confer it some more intense flavour.
In case, if you are using store-bought ghee and check the purity, boil a spoonful on high flame and if it turns red, then it is pure.
Desi Ghee in Ayurveda:
Ayurveda defines ghee as the by-product of butter without any impurities. According to ancient Ayurvedic text, Sushruta Samhita desi ghee effectively deals with various anomalies caused due to pitta dosha such as inflammation. It is in fact also serves as a rasayana which means it can heal both body and mind at the same time.
Another famous Ayurvedic scripture Charaka Samhita too echoes similar views, even in an elaborate way. It explains that ghee is hugely recommended for those bodily constitutions often dominated by vata and pitta doshas. It is prescribed for good eyesight, longevity, to build immunity, strength, ojas, smooth skin with a radiant complexion, memory, intelligence, ignite digestion, utmost functioning of all sensory organs, as a balm to heal burn injuries and can be taken by the old, children and the weak alike.
Why Is Desi Ghee Healthy?
Desi ghee is composed of fats of which 62% is saturated fats which play a prominent role in increasing HDL or good cholesterol, reduce LDL or bad cholesterol without harming the lipid profile. Ghee is also a rich source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 and is loaded with essential amino acids.
However, still, there are numerous myths and facts associated with desi ghee.
Ghee Promotes Weight Gain.
Not true. Being rich in Omega 3, Omega 6 and essential fatty acids, it can in fact cut down on the size of fat cells, mobilizing them in order to burn energy. It promotes lean body mass even while the amount of stubborn fat in the body is high, and helps in boosting metabolism. If you want to shed those adamant storages of fat in your waistline, thighs and hips, add a spoon of desi ghee to your daily diet. Also Read: 5 Superfoods To Keep Good Cholesterol Up
Ghee Is Not Good For Cardiac Patients.
Again, it is not true. Desi ghee is a powerhouse of vitamins A, E, D and Conjugated linoleic acid and a whole range of antioxidants that play a major role in the proper functioning of the heart and cardiac muscles. Since it is also prepared at a high smoking point, it prevents good fats from turning into harmful compounds, which can harm your cardiac health. However, take it in moderation.
Ghee Should Be Avoided By Those With Lactose Intolerance
Not really. The process of making ghee eliminates milk solids making it both lactose and casein free. It is generally recommended for lactose intolerance people too, unless the person suffers from a severe form of it.
Health Benefits of Desi Ghee:
Ghee is a powerhouse of short-chain fatty acids known as butyric acid which helps in breaking down of food more effectively, even while stimulating digestive enzymes. It is perhaps one of the few food products with natural butyric acid which can soothe and heal the digestive tract for better functioning. Also Read: 7 Foods To Improve Gut Digestion
Regulates Blood Sugars:
Contrary to the belief that ghee needs to be avoided by the diabetics, it, in fact, serves as an agent that can metabolise and balance the levels of high blood glucose levels. It is strongly recommended for diabetics to add ghee in their diet as it not only facilitates smooth digestion but also stimulates the production of insulin to manage diabetes.
Urticaria or hives are sudden breakouts on the skin, that appear like small bumps on the surface often caused due to insect bites, allergies or even stress. While this condition is usually treated by antihistamines, Ayurveda recommends applying pure desi ghee on the affected areas for immediate relief from itchiness. It also prescribes consuming half-a-spoon desi ghee mixed in one spoon black pepper powder daily on empty stomach to treat the problem permanently.
Improves Reproductive Health:
Ghee is recommended for improving the functioning of male and female reproductive organs. Women of reproductive age are advised to take two teaspoons of desi ghee daily to regulate hormones while in men the same amount of ghee improves sperm quality and motility.
Ghee is a wonder ingredient suffering from severe insomnia. Gently rub ghee on temples and on the stomach around the naval to balance vata and to cool down the body. This massage leaves a calming effect on the mind, triggering a good amount of sleep. Also Read: Types of Insomnia: Here’s What You Should Do To Sleep
Melts Belly Fat:
Desi ghee is all you need if you want to do away with that stubborn belly fat. The conjugated linolenic acid in this amazing dairy product helps in shedding those extra fat deposits. Traditionally, it is recommended to massage a little bit of camphor with desi ghee around the belly to melt it away.
Good For Eyesight:
Regular intake of ghee improves vision, owing to its good amounts of vitamin A. Ayurveda strongly recommends ‘Tarpana’ a procedure in which ghee is applied around the eyes, to strengthen the power. The traditional practitioners use ghee along with triphala or with honey for the external application to improve the eyesight. Also Read: World Sight Day: Do These To Promote Eye Vision-Infographic
New mothers are advised to consume ghee in good amounts without worrying about weight gain. It is a myth that lactating mothers should avoid ghee in their daily diet. Contrary, it stimulates lactation, provides nourishment to the body, heals and soothes from within, balances hormones besides strengthening joints.
Ghee For Babies:
As discussed earlier, ghee is for every one of us, young, old, weak and healthy. And babies are no exception. Ghee portraying strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties is strongly recommended for the babies as young as 6 months. It in fact contains 108 micrograms of Vitamin A for every tablespoon and copious amounts of Vitamins D and K for developing and strengthening of bones.
Helps To Gain Weight:
Ghee is an elixir for those babies struggling to put on weight, just being on breast milk. It triggers the growth spurt and helps the baby build stronger bones and muscles in less than 2 months.
Skin allergies are common among babies these days. One such common allergy eczema which is often found in the babies born during winter months. Apply a thin layer of ghee on the affected areas as it serves as an antimicrobial and prevents eczema from spreading throughout the body.
Triggers Overall Growth:
Ghee is beneficial to babies in many other ways. It improves their eyesight, brightens the skin tone and builds immunity. A super source of vitamins, minerals and DHA helps the baby fight against seasonal infections like cough, cold besides aiding in digestion.
Ghee For Skin Care:
Believe it or not, this golden, greasy ingredient is an amazing skincare product that has been in use in various skin care products for many generations now. Ghee is a wonder remedy for treating burns, wounds, acne, scars caused due to chickenpox or even burns.
Referred to as Shata Dhauta Gritha in Ayurveda, this technique includes applying ghee after mixing in water for 5 minutes. For this, you need 250 grams of pure desi ghee mixed in water. Let it sit for 5 minutes and throw away the water.
Repeat the same procedure for 5 more times as it essentially involves rinsing the ghee. After rinsing it thoroughly, the ghee acquires smooth, butter-like texture and white in colour. Apply it on the affected area for instant relief.
The same formulation can also be applied to dry skin for moisturization. Apply it on the face and wash it after 15 minutes. Pat dry. If it is too greasy, wash with mild soap.
Fosters Healthy Hair Growth
Desi ghee possesses an intrinsically oily consistency, in addition to vast reserves of vitamin E and good unsaturated fatty acids, which infuse hydration to the locks, seal in moisture in the scalp, to tackle dry, dull, lifeless hair. Moreover, lauric acid - the antimicrobial compound in ghee that displays antibacterial, antifungal qualities, thwarts dandruff, resolves flaking, itching, to bestow a clean and clear scalp. Massaging some warm ghee on the scalp and hair immensely improves blood circulation to the follicles, promotes the growth of dense new strands, conditions the mane and confers healthy, silky, thick tresses.
Side Effects Of Desi Ghee:
In general, desi ghee is easily digested by normal, healthy individuals and does not present any harmful side effects, when taken in moderate amounts along with rice, roti or bread on a daily basis. Since desi ghee is high in calories and fat content, it is recommended to be ingested only in small quantities routinely, for people with obesity, heart conditions. When experiencing any health problems related to the kidneys, liver, such as jaundice, it is advised to cut down on the intake of desi ghee. Excessive consumption of desi ghee regularly presents issues of decreased metabolism, surplus body fat and becoming overweight.
Celebrities Who Love Their Ghee:
Kareena Kapoor swears by ghee and Kourtney Kardashian insists that melted ghee is the first thing she consumes daily on her empty stomach to stay ‘bikini’ ready. From Bollywood celebrities to Hollywood hot divas, ghee garnered a top slot.
Kareena Kapoor and her celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar’s love for ghee is no secret. Kareena on many occasions credited and announced ‘ghee’ is that ultimate ingredient which helped her lose weight, pre and post-pregnancy. Her nutritionist Rujuta revealed that Kareena’s post-pregnancy diet included rice and bajra roti laced with ghee and jaggery along with milk at night. Kareena’s size zero figure too was the courtesy of desi ghee.
Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Tamannaha Bhatia are also among the long list of celebrities sticking to their ghee diet plan for beautiful skin and amazing health.
Desi Ghee being the most versatile ingredient in Indian kitchens can be used in whatever proportions you would like. You can add a spoonful to your hot rice or can simply dip hot fluffy idlis in melted ghee to eat your heart’s content.
Here we bring you two amazing ghee based recipes, loaded with nutrition.
1 cup basmati rice
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tsp desi ghee
½ tsp jeera
10 cashews, chopped roughly
2 green chillis, slit
Coriander leaves for garnishing
Salt to taste
Cooked basmati rice in a pressure cooker, fluffy.
In a pan, heat ghee, add onions, jeera, cashews, chillis and saute.
Mix it with rice and add salt. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
This easy recipe is a popular lunchbox item for children. Basmati rice provides instant energy in the form of carbs, whereas good amounts of ghee added to this dish provides all necessary vitamins, minerals and aids in strengthening bones and muscles. Jeera and coriander leaves aid in digestion and prevent issues related to the digestive tract.
2 cups of gram flour or besan
3 cups desi ghee
½ litre milk
For The Sugar Syrup
400 grams sugar
½ cup milk
1 tsp cardamom powder
Edible food colour
In a thick bottom vessel, pour sugar and water and allow it to melt. Bring it to boil and add milk. Stir for 3 minutes until it completely gets mixed.
Let it reach two string consistency, add cardamom powder and food colour. Mix it and keep aside.
In another large bowl, mix besan powder with milk. Add baking soda to the smooth mixture.
Heat ghee in a wide vessel. Place a ladle with tiny holes and pour this besan mixture into the hot melted ghee. Let the boondi fry into golden colour.
Place the fried boondi on tissue paper and remove excess oil
Add the boondi to the sugar syrup and mix well.
Grease your hands with ghee and shape the mixture into laddoos.
These laddoos can be stored in an air-tight container for a week.
Besan flour is a rich source of protein with 20 grams for every 100 grams, carbs, folate, iron, fiber and negligible amounts of fat. Ghee in this dish not only makes the laddoos delicious but also stimulates digestion, improves immunity, soothes skin. The milk is a rich source of calcium, vitamin A and is an amazing source of protein.
How To Make Your Ghee Flavourful?
If you are planning to make desi ghee at home and make it even more nutritious, flavourful it’s time to add a fistful of moringa leaves or dip in a couple of betel leaves into it.
Moringa or Moringa olifera is a new superfood rich in antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds. Native to India, moringa leaves offer whopping amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, riboflavin, magnesium besides other nutrients.
Ditto with betel leaves. Contrary to the opinion, betel leaves are not bad to health. These leaves rich in vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin are a rich source of calcium too.
When To Add Leaves To Ghee?
If you are adding moringa leaves, do not add more than a fistful. In case of betel leaves, you would require just two tender ones. Let the butter melt at low flame, add these leaves and give it a good stir. Wait till flavours are absorbed, leaves turn dark in colour and remove them. Stock ghee in a glass jar to retain flavours and taste.
Ghee is an ancient, must-have ingredient in Indian households occupying an important place be it in rituals, functions and even in daily diet. A rich source of Omega 3, Omega 6 fatty acids, ghee is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and is loaded with antioxidants. Give your child ghee for the daily dose of vitamins A, K and E and other minerals. Desi ghee is gaining its popularity and is widely recommended by Ayurveda for longevity, good eyesight, hormonal balance, cardiac health and even in the case of diabetics.
However, like any other ingredient moderation is the key to consuming ghee too. Do not stay away from it completely and do not consume it in excess as well, for overall health.