By Naini Setalvad February 2012 Contrary to popular perception, ghee is one of the most essential and healthy ingredients of Indian cuisine, says Naini Setalvad HOW TO MAKE GHEECollect the cream of the milk for a couple of days. Heat it and set it into curds. When set, transfer to a large bowl and churn it for 5-10 minutes. Pour one and half glasses of ice water and you will find that the cream coagulates into butter. Separate the buttermilk that is released from the cream on churning. Heat the butter over fire till it melts and all the water in it dissolves and you get a clear fluid.Sieve the fluid and you have fresh ghee! Who doesn’t love ghee? A teaspoon of it in hot dal, or a smear on a masala dosa, or a generous ladle in halwa can send anyone into gastronomic heaven. And the good news is, it is also quite kosher. Ghee is no longer the black sheep of the fat family. Nutritionists, researchers and our own lifestyles have awakened us to the benefit of fats. Fats are needed in a balanced way as they provide energy, and are a vital brain food. Ghee contains fatty acids which are the building blocks of the membranes of every cell in our bodies. Vitamins like A, E, D and K are fat soluble. Ghee helps retain these vitamins. Vitamin E is heart-friendly, and for its absorption too, ghee is needed. My grandmother always said, “Ghee nahi khaoage to chamdi sukh jayegi”(Without ghee, your skin will dry). So true scientifically. Vitamin A which is for hair, eyes and skin needs fat to absorb it. It is even better if it is a good quality fat.Qualities of gheeGhee is lactose-free and reduces plasma LDL cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol. Cholesterol-prone readers should use ghee in moderation. It is rich in antioxidants, feeding all layers of body tissue and serves to strengthen the immune system. Ghee also has medicinal value. It has high concentration of butyric acid, a fatty acid that contains anti-viral properties, which inhibits the growth of cancerous tumours. Benefits of ghee Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist,specialising in lifestyle and immunity disorders. Her foundation, Health For You, throws light on healthy food habits. Ayurveda specialists consider cow’s ghee to be the ultimate sattvic food. According to them it nurtures beauty, removes headache, helps soothe acidity, indigestion, and gives vital fire to the body. Mythology says that a few centuries ago, saints had the strength and digestion to drink a bowl of ghee! Ghee plays a sacred role in Vedic and Hindu rituals, in anointments and yagnas and is the principal fuel for lighting a ceremonial lamp. The Charaka Samhita (an old Ayurvedic text), and the Rig Veda both extol ghee as a pure and a rich ingredient. Even today it is a mark of wealth.Therapeutic properties Ghee boasts of many therapeutic properties that are good for burns, blisters, wounds and even alcoholism. It is said to have anti-cancerous (due to Vitamin E and A) and anti-viral properties due to its anti-inflammatory quality. Use haldi mixed with ghee in hot water for a bad throat. In piles and constipation, daily intake of ghee keeps your stool soft. For preventing joint pains ghee should be eaten. It contains no trans fats or hydrogenated fats. It is a good quality saturated fat which is needed in small quantities daily. Ghee is an excellent preservative, retaining the freshness of ingredients mixed with it. Ideal cooking mediumGhee is safer than butter and more nutrititive than oil. It is the ideal fat for deep frying as its smoking point is well above other vegetable oils. Its chemical structure does not change at high heat. Ghee doesn’t burn easily. It has longer shelf-life and can be stored for a long period, without refrigeration.Time then to welcome back this wholesome and utterly delicious cooking medium.Masala khichadi with palak kadi Ingredients100 gms/1 katori brown rice/Basmati rice50 gms split green moong dal2 bowls chopped mixed vegetables(Potato, onions, beans, carrot, peas, cauliflower, capsicum)Mustard seeds, jeera, curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and asafetida2 tbsps: gheeMethod1. Wash rice and dal together2. Keep it soaked for two hours3. Put it on a low flame along with vegetables4. Temper it with mustard seeds, jeera,curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and asafoetida5. Let it cook well for 30 minutes6.Serve hot with a small dollop of gheePalak kadhi (Serves 3)Ingredients250 gm low fat dahi (curd), preheated50 gm chana atta (Bengal gram flour)1 cup palak leaves, finely chopped1 green chilli1/4 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds1/2 tsp rye (mustard) seeds1 tsp cow’s ghee1 cup waterSalt to tasteMethod1. Take dahi in a big vessel2. Add water, salt and chana atta to the vessel3. Blend with the hand churner4. Put the mixture on low flame5. Stir constantly6. Slit green chilli and add to the vessel7. Cook for 5-7 min8. Pour ghee in another pan. Heat it, add methi seeds, rye, jeera seeds and hing9. As it starts crackling put it in the kadi10. Cook for 2 minutes11. Add the chopped palak, remove from flame and serve
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