Ghee is an ancient food that is nutritious and popular around the world. Traditional ghee (known as Alenya among my community) has been used and continues to be used by many communities across Kenya. Traditional cooking oils in all cultures have been ghee, coconut oil or lard. The saturated fats hold up under heating and ghee has been used for thousand years. Ghee would not be used in cooking since most of the meals were steamed; small amounts would be drizzled on hot food before and after serving.
Traditional “butter” used in the production of ghee across many communities is acquired during the fermentation process or producing sour milk.
Ghee is a product where all moisture and impure products such as salt and milk solids (including lactose) are eliminated from the butter and pure oils remains. As it does not contain milk solids it is very stable at high heat. Because of its high smoke point, it is considered one of the best oils for sauteing and deep fat frying. When you saute with butter the milk solids precipitate to the bottom of the pan and they burn causing an unpleasant odor, appearance and taste. When you saute and fry with ghee, there is no hissing, popping or splattering, it also has a sweet aroma and actually becomes richer in flavour.
Like butter, ghee is healthy saturated fat that contains fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need such as vitamins A, D, E and K, critical to bone, brain, heart and immune system function.
Ghee is an abundant source of conjugated linoleic acid – an antioxidant, which destroys free-radicals (cancer), immune booster, and a friend to cardiovascular health.
It also contains lauric acid, which is useful in fighting fungus and candida.
Ghee again aids in weight loss as it stimulates digestive fire, promotes longevity by assisting absorption of vital nutrients and enhances glow of the skin.
In Indian culture aged ghee is considered to have healing properties and some families have ghee that is over 100 years old. Ghee such as this is very rare and expensive . Ayurvedic use – keeps skin soft, smooth and moisturized and is especially useful in healing dry lips. They say a small amount of ghee applied to the belly button nourishes the entire body.
To improve taste and flavour of food, sprinkle a teaspoon over food in place of butter. You can also pour some in our rice with lemon for a great taste.
Like oil it keeps for a long time. The process of making ghee removes the milk proteins and moisture, making it a very stable substance, it can last 2-3 months and a year with refrigeration in an airtight container.