I don't use 'ghee' but you certainly may….!!

October 17th, 2012

In almost every class I am asked, why is it that I don’t use ghee in my cooking and my answer is and has always been, “Because, dear folks, I have never understood what happens to ghee when it melts.”

And I continue, “Nor have I understood how to get the best out of this extremely popular and ‘healthy cooking medium’. Simple!!”

And I can see that the person asking the question is surprised, because more often than not they’ve bought that nice, round tin of ghee and it’s sitting in their fridge, and they may have used it once, and then it’s languished there, never ‘going off’.

Because you see, it is always a ‘trial and error’ with ghee. You can ‘test’ and ‘flunk’ at home without anyone ‘twittering’ about how bad, or unfit, the dish was, but one small ‘mistake’ in my business and, well you know, we all live amidst a mightily chattering social media!

With oil, however, especially polyunsaturated vegetable oil it is easy. You just wait for the ‘ripples’ to disappear when heating it; you then wait for the oil to just start smoking and you are in business!!

But having said that, and even though I do hold strong views about it, I am never going to stop, or intercept, anyone from using it. I always like you experimenting and trying out anything.

So, go for it, by all means.

Simon Marnie from ABC Radio loves to cook using ghee, once said to me that it was difficult to find good ghee and he is so right.

Good ghee is not easy to buy because ‘good ghee’ is always made at home!! (There goes your tin!)

Aai, my mother, who is around 85 years old, still makes her own ghee because she believes that if the medium of cooking is not pure then the food that is cooked in it just cannot be holy.

Its a simple philosophy. And it produces superb results, time and time again.

But how, and where, does one find ‘pure’ ghee?

pure ghee

I did a blog on To ghee or not to ghee about a year ago, and so I am not going to talk about the benefits of using, or not using, ghee in your cooking as you can read it (or not) yourself.

But this time I want to focus on getting ‘pure’ ghee!! So, out with the notebook folks!

Pure ghee is made from pure makkhan [aka, home-made butter (unsalted)] which comes from fresh malai [aka, fresh cream].

And this is how it is made . . . but before we get onto the pure ghee, a small story, if I may be so bold!

In 1990, just before I started my own restaurant (with a business partner), I had the privilege of running a small restaurant in Newtown with my wife, Meera.

I was the ‘head chef’ and Meera was the ‘head waitress’. I had a chef named Mahadevan who specialised in tandoor cooking.

Mahadevan had come to Australia to buy and sell minerals. He was a miner as well as a partner in a mine near Madras. After he left Madras, his partners decided to sell off the mine and share the profits in his absence. So, the poor ‘MD’ lost all his investments whilst he was away hoping to crack a deal with the mines in NSW.

Little did he know that there was nothing for him to go back to. All was lost. Mahadevan, not surprisingly, ended up a wreck!!

He started drinking a lot, became an alcoholic and ended up in AA. Six months later he decided to gather himself together and make a fresh start. So, he started off by washing dishes in an Indian restaurant and when an opportunity came by for him to learn cooking, he made the most of it!

Mahadevan became a Tandooriya and a damn fine one too!!

His kebabs, especially the tandoori chicken ones, were to die for. He did something that made the chicken ‘sing’, something I had never seen before in all my cooking life.

Basically, Mahadevan ‘finished’ his tandoori chicken with a final touch, or sprinkling, of chat masala with lemon juice and ghee.

Yes, that’s right, ghee!!

Australia had no such product on the market so Mahadevan made his own ghee. From start to finish….!!

And this is how he made it and this is how I would also makes it…..

Well, the recipe is no ‘talk’, or should I say, no ‘write’ but all pictures:

Step 1: Keep the following tools & ingredients for home-made makkhan or butter & home-made ghee ready:

food processor with whisk attachment & fresh cream at room temperature

3 or 4 bowls of cold water with ice cubes

a thick-bottomed pan/pot, a strainer or two & a small pot for the ghee

Step 2: Making the makkhan [butter]

add 1 litre cream to the bowl & whisk gradually

the start of the whisking process

the next stage of whisking when the cream froths & bubbles

the next stage of whisking when the cream starts to thicken

more thickening of the cream

the cream is really thick & rising in volume constantly

at this stage the cream is now getting ready to split

continue whisking as the cream gets grainier & the solids start to separate from the ‘buttermilk’

the cream has split & the makkhan or butter & the ‘buttermilk’ are clearly visible separately. Stop whisking now!

Step 3: Washing the makkhan [butter] in ice water

strain the makkhan or butter through a strainer into an empty vessel. Reserve the ‘buttermilk’.

use a spatula or your fingers to scrape all the makkhan into the strainer

shape the makkhan into round balls while squeezing out the buttermilk at the same time

‘wash’ the balls of makkhan in the ice-cold water till no more buttermilk can be squeezed out. It is critical that the water is really cold, as the makkhan is then firm & easy to handle

continue this process for all the makkhan in the strainer. The home-made makkhan is ready & may be stored in the refrigerator!!

Step 4: Making the ghee

place the washed balls of makkhan in a thick-bottom pan or pot

keep on a low heat/flame

the makkhan starts to melt gradually

do not stir or disturb the makkhan as it continues to melt

there will be a layer of froth on the top & a layer of solids at the bottom of the pan

as the makkhan transforms into ghee, the froth on top will start to disappear & the solids at the bottom will start to caramelise

Voilà! The ghee is ready when the solids turn light golden & the froth on top also starts to turn golden

strain the ghee, but do not discard the solids

the ghee should be a perfectly clear & golden liquid

When making ghee it is important to remember the following:

1.  The cream must be fresh, even if it is from the supermarket. There is nothing better than getting the fresh cream on the day you’re going to make your ghee.
2.  You need to keep a constant supply of  ice-cold water as this is the best way to solidify your ‘pure butter’ as it is being made.
3.  The fresh cream must be churned gradually, this helps separate the fat from the buttermilk.
4.  The buttermilk can be used to make other dishes. . .
5.  The water usde to wash the makkhan is an excellent ‘feed’ for the herb garden, especially for the kari leaf plant !!
6. Pure ghee must be like ‘crystal clear’ glass and have a light golden ‘tinge’ to it.

precious liquid gold – GHEE!!

This is pure gold, also known as GHEE!!!

I think someday all the food in my restaurant will be cooked in this pure gold, but until then it will have to be polyunsaturated vegetable oil [except ‘canola’ because canola, in the state of NSW, is genetically…….!!]

Well, I hope you’re successful with making your own ghee. Let me know how you get on.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava!!


  1. mercadeo

    Where to Eat The aloo-puri breakfast and halwa-pinni of Kanhaiya Sweets (Phullonwala Chowk, Near Katra Bhai Sant Singh) is legendary. For kulchas, try the top 3 – Suchha da kulcha (Maqbool Road, Purani Chungi), Ashok da Kulcha (Ranjit Avenue, A Block Market) and Darshan Kulcha wala (Near Jamadar ki Haveli, Guru Bazaar). Wash it all down with lassi at Ahuja Milk Bhandaar (Lohagadh Gate) or Gyan di lassi (Near Regent Cinema, DAV College). For mah ki dal, Amritsari chhole and a wider variety of pure-veg fare, try Kesar ka Dhaba (Chowk Pasiyan), Bade Bhai ka Brothers Dhaba and Bharawan da Dhaba (Town Hall). At Katra Ahluwalia, do not miss the paneer bhurji, masala omelette and soya keema at Tare di hatti and top it off with Gurdas Ram ki jalebi. If you have a sweet tooth, a stop at Kanha Sweets and Bansal Sweets (Lawrence Road) is essential. While there, also drop by at the famous Surjit Food Plaza (Nehru Complex) for excellent non-veg fare. On Majitha Road, try the tandoori chicken at Beera Chicken and the fish at Makhan fishwala.

  2. Anonymous

    Looks Great!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Kiran,
    Thanks for the query.
    Mate as a kid my mom used to add sugar to the solids and it was the most amazing dessert I had ever eaten.
    Today I make a caramel with this by adding some palm sugar or jaggery , a little butter and a dash of orange juice.just cook it gradually over low heat till it turns into a thickish fluid. Serve it on top of vanilla I/C.
    Happy cooking !!!

  4. Kiran

    Ajoy, you said “do not discard the solids”, what do we do with it?

  5. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Pax,
    Great to hear from you.
    And great to hear that you made your own ‘GHEE’ !!
    Happy cooking!!!
    Regards to self and Chester.

  6. Pax crowe

    Hello Ajoy – I tried making this today – it was lovely. Never thought of making ghee because I had no clue how it was made. I will never buy ghee again. Thanks for ALL you recipes, stories and tips. Very interesting and helpful. All the best – must catch up soon – Love Pax and Chester

  7. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Pragni,
    Great to hear from you and thanks for sharing your memories.
    Never thought a simple cooking medium that has never been understood could bring back so many memories.
    Happy cooking!!!

  8. Ajoy Joshi

    Dear Ramanath,
    Great to hear from you.
    It seems there is a little bit of ‘ghee’ in all of us!
    Never thought this simple cooking medium would bring back ‘childhood’ memories.
    Job done!!
    Happy Cooking!!!

  9. Pragni

    In our family, once every Sunday was ghee making day. Mom would store fresh malai from the fresh tabela milk we got every day after boiling it and skimming it down. This cream would be stored in the freezer till the pot was heaping full. Come Sunday,mom would hand churn the ice cold malai for almost 20 minutes till it all started to separate. In between when it reached the creamy consistency phase(maakhan), dad would swoop in and scoop out a mountain sized pile on his toast or khakhra. This would be his Sunday breakfast. The rest of the process was pretty similar to what you described.. except that the buttermilk would be stored away in glass bottles for pickling uses and the brown scrapes would be mixed with sugar to become my Sunday snack. Our ghee is pure snowy white when solid and transparent when melted. It’s cow ghee I think.. but mom would insist that true ghee was made of cows milk and was supposed to be a pure white hue.. very unlike oil. And the richness of ghee in cooking comes when the saturated fats were melted to transparency, but she used it sparingly since it was way higher in calories than oil. Even today, there is a huge box of virginal white ghee in my fridge in Montreal, made by my mom after freezing her malai for over six months..
    Sorry for the extremely long comment..couldn’t resist telling you a story from my past about ghee too.

  10. Ramanath

    Dear Ajoy,
    Great. I have involved with eating Ghee for 65 years ( thanks to my mother who thought I will put on ‘weight’) and making ghee at home ( for about 30 years). Our procedure is generally similar to yours except for the following : 1. Our cream is collected from the milk we buy everyday ( from about 10 litres of ‘Nandini’ milk we get about 150 gm of butter over a wek ) – thus cream is strictly not ‘fresh’. 2. Have no restrictions about stirring while butter is melted on low flame. 3. Add about 15-20 curry leaves in the beginning of the melting process. Ah ! the tasted of ghee-roasted curry leaves ! 4. We add a pich of ‘rock salt’ when the ghee is almost done.
    While I never put on much weight , there are lots of people ( Old ‘Mamis’ )
    whose children/grand children must have have put on weight.
    I use lots og ghee whenever I am allowed to cook !
    And thanks for sharingng the process which kindled memories of my Mom
    Ramanath , Oct 18 , 2012

  11. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Lalitha,
    Good to hear from you.
    Yes, you most certainly can use un-salted butter for making ghee as long as the butter has no artificial colour and preservatives.
    If that happens the ghee comes out ‘cloudy’ and will not be granular.
    Happy cooking!!!

  12. Lalitha

    The ghee looks awesome.pure liquid gold indeed.can i omit the steps of making it with fresh cream and use pure unsalted butter instead.

  13. Ajoy Joshi

    Hi Sushmita,
    Believe me you will love it.
    It is pure Gold!!
    Happy cooking !!!

  14. Ajoy Joshi

    thanks Shruti,
    I make a caramel with the scrapings and palm sugar.
    Happy coking!!!

  15. My Unfinished Life (@MyUnfinishedlyf)

    making ghee at home..i never thought it was possible!!!
    i dont know whether i will try it for myself…..but this looks awesome!!
    I get my ghee from west bengal in India, the ghee made from cow suits me better 🙂

  16. shrutisharma

    Ah – you missed something there chef! The pan scrapings mixed with sugar make a delicious dessert/snack for kids (maybe even some adults!). Pure protein and delicious : )

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