By Naini Setalvad
Contrary to popular perception, ghee is one of the most essential and healthy ingredients of Indian cuisine, says Naini Setalvad
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 ghee
Ghee 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.
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 medium
Ghee 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
100 gms/1 katori brown rice/Basmati rice
50 gms split green moong dal
2 bowls chopped mixed vegetables
(Potato, onions, beans, carrot, peas, cauliflower, capsicum)
Mustard seeds, jeera, curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and asafetida
2 tbsps: ghee
1. Wash rice and dal together
2. Keep it soaked for two hours
3. Put it on a low flame along with vegetables
4. Temper it with mustard seeds, jeera,curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and asafoetida
5. Let it cook well for 30 minutes
6.Serve hot with a small dollop of ghee
Palak kadhi (Serves 3)
250 gm low fat dahi (curd), preheated
50 gm chana atta (Bengal gram flour)
1 cup palak leaves, finely chopped
1 green chilli
1/4 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
1/2 tsp rye (mustard) seeds
1 tsp cow’s ghee
1 cup water
Salt to taste
1. Take dahi in a big vessel
2. Add water, salt and chana atta to the vessel
3. Blend with the hand churner
4. Put the mixture on low flame
5. Stir constantly
6. Slit green chilli and add to the vessel
7. Cook for 5-7 min
8. Pour ghee in another pan. Heat it, add methi seeds, rye, jeera seeds and hing
9. As it starts crackling put it in the kadi
10. Cook for 2 minutes
11. Add the chopped palak, remove from flame and serve
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