Frying eggs for a quick breakfast or making a hearty meat-and-potatoes dinner? Looking for something new to slather onto a slice of crusty sourdough or drizzle on your pancakes? Ghee can take your everyday go-to meals and pump up the flavour.
A type of clarified butter, ghee is a delicious and versatile replacement for everyday cooking oils and butter. Though it’s been a fixture in Indian pantries and Ayurvedic traditions for centuries, it’s only recently entered the global lexicon.
According to Forbes, ghee is the “fastest growing category in the nearly $10 billion butter and butter replacement industry,” which probably explains why it’s on Whole Foods’ and Toronto agency THP’s list of 2017 food trends.
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So why is everyone falling hard for this ancient staple? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is it?
Ghee is a clarified butter that’s been cooked on low heat for several hours. In the process, the milk solids get separated from the fat and are removed. Without these perishable milk solids, ghee becomes stable at room temperature (and lactose free!) and doesn’t need to be refrigerated — making it a great pantry staple.
It liquefies over 20°C, so it’s likely to be liquid or semi-solid if kept out during the summer months, and in a solid state if refrigerated.
What does it taste like?
Ghee has a rich, nutty taste due to the prolonged cooking process, in which the milk solids get browned before they’re separated from the fats.
“The number one reason you should use ghee is because it tastes so amazing,” says model-turned-entrepreneur Lee Dares of Toronto’s Lee’s Ghee. “Good ghee should taste really buttery and rich, with a nutty flavour. The texture should be a bit grainy, not smooth — the graininess is due to crystallization of the fats from slow cooking on very low heat, which is the traditional way of making ghee. The graininess disappears when ghee melts.”
Because it shifts from a liquid to a solid, ghee lends itself well to all manner of culinary activities.
It’s perfect for frying
Ghee has a high smoke point of 252°C. (Compare that to the smoke points of butter: 177°C and olive oil: 207°C).) Melted, it has the consistency of oil, making it ideal for cooking meat, sautéeing veggies and frying foods.
Use it like butter to spread or drizzle
Melted ghee can be drizzled over popcorn or pancakes, or spooned onto oatmeal as a finishing touch. In its semi-solid state, use ghee in place of butter when baking, or on toast or crackers for a snack.
You can even put a tablespoon of ghee in your morning brew to create your own “bulletproof coffee,” a recent food trend inspired largely by Tibetan butter tea.
Add It To Your Favourite Dishes
“I have lots of favourite dishes that I like to prepare with ghee,” says chef and activist Joshna Maharaj, “Using it as the base of any soup or stew is amazing. Other things I like to do with ghee is fry eggs for breakfast with onions and green chilies, and of course, it’s brilliant when brushed on a chicken to roast with garlic, spices and fresh herbs. A few years ago I was making latkes on the first day of Hanukkah with a pal of mine. The recipe we were using suggested we should fry the latkes in a mixture of half butter and half vegetable oil. I knew where they were going with this, and pulled out the jar of ghee that I always have in the fridge. Those ghee-fried latkes were perfect, and I’ve made them this way ever since.”
Where to Find It
Pick up a jar of plain or flavoured ghee at health food and grocery stores like Noah’s Natural Foods and Naturally Yours in Toronto, Famous Foods and Spud in Vancouver, PA Nature and Sante Ecoloco in Montreal, as well as Whole Foods and Loblaw (selection may vary by store) stores across the country.
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Note: Keep an eye out in both the refrigerated dairy section, as well as the international aisle, as placement varies from store to store
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