Hi to all of our great readers! I'm Heather - the other half of this little corner of the blogging world. You haven't heard from me in a while - but a big thanks to Nicole for doing so many great posts in the recent weeks! I haven't been up for blogging lately - since my husband and I found out that we are expecting our first baby in January of next year... to tell you the truth, not a lot of food has sounded terribly good to me lately. I think things are starting to change though - our baby is half Indian (my husband is from India) and I think he or she is ready for some yummy Indian food made the traditional way!
I thought that I'd start with a basic of Indian cooking. You've probably heard of ghee (clarified butter) - but do you know the traditions and health benefits behind it? Have you ever tried making it from scratch? If you want to find out... keep reading!
Ghee is made by simmering unsalted butter until all the water has boiled away and the milk solids have settled to the bottom. The clarified butter is skimmed off the top and stored in an airtight jar (no need for refrigeration). The milk solids are discarded. Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter, so is widely used for frying/sautéing - when butter would otherwise burn. Ghee lacks hydrogenated oils and is a popular choice for health-conscious cooks as well. Also, since all the milk proteins have been removed during the clarifying process, it is lactose free, making it a safer alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
Ghee in Indian cooking: in many parts of India rice is served with ghee. Indian flat breads, naan and chapatti are brushed with ghee. Many recipes call for cooking curries with ghee as well. Lots of Indian sweets are made with ghee as well - my husband's favorites!
Health benefits: Ghee is said to help balance excess stomach acid, and helps aid digestion and maintain/repair the mucus lining of the stomach. Ghee has been shown to actually reduce serum cholesterol in several studies. Ghee contains butyric acid, a fatty acid with antiviral and anti-cancer properties. Daily intake of ghee sharpens the intellect, and promotes a clear complexion and voice. It is also said to have anti-aging properties and most of all it doesn't have the free radicals like other hydrogenated oils, which cause heart diseases. People allergic to milk protein can safely cook with pure ghee as the offending proteins are removed during the clarifying process.
In India, ghee is used for many other purposes other than just cooking, such as: traditional medicine, religious ceremonies and even baby massage!
If you are buying store-bought ghee look for a package which says "pure desi ghee" or "cow's ghee" - to avoid buying imitation ghee which has been made from hydrogenated vegetable oils. Or if you are feeling adventurous and want an even more authentic flavor, try making your own ghee!
Here is a fun video demonstrating how to make ghee (and use the bi-products!):
Photo from: Royalty Free Indian Food Images
Two recovering foodies set out to make their world a better place by attempting to follow a "Traditional Foods" diet, inspired by the Weston A. Price Foundation, and the book, "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon.
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