How to make Ghee

Ghee. That quintessential Indian fat that must make an appearance as a cooking medium or condiment at every authentic Indian meal. I don’t know what arguments I should make in order to prove that it is a healthy fat, but what I can tell you is what a tremendous difference a mere half teaspoonful of good ghee can make to a simple daal or to a bowl of upma. Or a hot roti. I cannot imagine eating a modak or patole or chakolya or bissi bele bhath without ghee. When people turn up their noses at ghee or talk about how they can’t stand the smell of ghee making, it really breaks my heart and I am tempted to start off on a lecture on how ghee should really be made. (I don’t).  And it is quite simple, really–if I can do it, anyone can.

Good ghee must have a sweet smell and a uniform gold color. When it is getting made, it should not smell astringent; and when eaten, it should not scratch the back of your throat. When cool, it should form semolina-like granules and should not be only smooth and waxy. Here are my top tips on ghee making followed by step-by-step pictures of the process.

Top ghee making tips:

  1. Don’t put just the cream on the boil. Adding a natural yogurt culture is important as it gives the butter (and therefore the ghee) the correct taste and texture.
  2. Don’t be very stingy with the quantity of culture you add–a little extra will do no harm, less will make your buttermilk bitter and your butter and ghee will have a peculiar smell.
  3. In hot and humid weathers, give the cultured cream at least 6-7 hours to sour.
  4. Once you have extracted the butter, refrigerate it for a day–making the ghee immediately will yield lesser ghee. (Don’t ask me why.)
  5. Allow the milk solids to turn brown–it will not urn your ghee but instead, will give you a rounded, even flavor and smooth texture. Also, your ghee will last longer.
  6. Once you’ve strained the ghee, your iron wok will show off brown bits of burnt milk solids. This porous solid base still contains a little ghee and is difficult to scrape off and clean. To make this easier, simply pour half a liter or so of water into the wok and bring it to the boil. Let it reduce a bit while you do other things around the house. Then, strain the liquid into a bowl and refrigerate; the leftover ghee will float and solidify to the top. This is good enough for cooking. Also, the wok will be clean and a simple scrub and wash will make it as good as new.

Cream or top of milk collected through the week

Dahi (Natural yogurt)

Butter floating on the surface of the buttermilk

Butter melting in an iron kadhai

Butter clarifying

Almost there!

Straining liquid gold!

How to make ghee:

  1. Collect the clotted cream/top of milk from your pot of fresh milk every time you boil the milk. Refrigerate this cream until you have enough. (I wait for a week; my supply of a 1 to 1.5 liters of whole fat milk yields about 5 cups of cream at the end of the week).
  2. Once you have enough, add fresh, unflavored natural yogurt culture. To my 5 cups of cream, I add about 3 tablespoonfuls of dahi (yogurt). Leave this to sour for about 6-7 hours. If you live in a cold place, even 10 hours or overnight will do it no harm.
  3. Refrigerate the sour cream for 3-4 hours (especially if you live in a hot place). This makes it easier for the butter to come up faster.
  4. Transfer all the sour cream to your blender and add 1/4 cup of cold water. Run at the lowest speed for about 1-2 minutes. You will see the butter and buttermilk separating. Once the buttermilk looks thin enough and the utter has risen to the top, switch off and transfer to a bowl.
  5. Now, dip one pal in the bowl and turn once or twice anti-clockwise; this helps the butter to form a ball. Now simple pick up the utter, using your fingers as a strainer and wait for almost all of the buttermilk to strain off. Transfer the butter to another bowl. Use the buttermilk to make a kadhi (coming soon), or drink it just like that with a bit of rock salt and coriander leaves.
  6. Refrigerate the butter. This butter is excellent to bake with, by the way. And is excellent with dosas, idlis, and pancakes.
  7. To make the ghee, simply put the butter in an iron wok or kadhai and boil gently until the solids separate and a clear liquid remains.
  8. Strain and store in the refrigerator once completely cool.

Comments (23)

  1. Kavi | Foodomania August 19, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Only you can make something as simple as ghee look so glamorous! 🙂 Loved the pics!

  2. Anushruti | Divinetaste August 19, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    One of my kitchen and food essentials too. Well written post Saee and like I said when we were chatting, exactly how I make it..both of us having learned the art from our respective grandmothers. 🙂

  3. Aditi Bharadwaj August 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Such a beautiful post ….Ghee is actually liquid gold!Thank-you for posting such an authentic easy step by step instructional recipe!

    Its so sad my mother used to make ghee at home but now due to health reasons we order very low fat milk so no chance of collecting cream at all as there is none!! 🙁

    Eid Mubarak and have a great day

  4. Amit August 21, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Very nicely written with detailed but crisp explanation of steps and pics. Very useful.

  5. Jalpa August 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    As always I love your photography skill and a gr8 post too 🙂

  6. Jayashree February 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    This is indeed a gr8 post.
    I was following the same procedure u mentioned above.
    But the ghee was smelling very peculiar…so cudnt consume it at all..
    Was trying different methods..until i found the million dollar tip on ur post..
    yes i was stingy in putting the culture…and after reading ur tip, my ghee is as yummy as it should be..thanks a lot

  7. Neha Justa March 13, 2013 at 4:11 am

    I have referred to ur post and made ghee first time in my life…it indeed came out good but the thing is i didnt got the buttermilk…i blend the sour cream and the buttermilk didnt came…then i put it over the flame…after few minutes ghee came out…yippieeee…thanks a lot…. 🙂

  8. meera March 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Really good post. Enjoyed the details. In the details is my mother! And my grandmother!

    One qs: when you add the culture, do you stir it in or just leave it on the top? Important for me to know this pls?

    God bless you.

    • admin March 22, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Meera, you need to mix the culture in so that it is evenly distributed. 🙂

      • meera March 22, 2013 at 11:18 pm

        Since I had a mountain of cream, I went ahead and mixed the culture and prayed over it 🙂 Gosh, the butter is so amazing, that I don;t have the heart to make it into ghee. So I open the box every 3 hours and smell the butter and feel happy looking at its beauty 🙂 Thanks so much, suddenly I feel like Superman!

  9. Sharmila | Cheeky Chilli March 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I’m so happy to have found this post. Everywhere I look there were posts for making ghee from butter, and this is what I wanted, a way to make it from cream instead of butter. The ones from butter only end up being like brown butter.
    Beautiful site and post. Thank you!

  10. Veena April 25, 2013 at 6:07 am

    Thanks for the wonderful post and the pictures!

  11. bhawana May 7, 2013 at 2:01 am

    thanx for the nice & useful post. how will one get the peculiar smell of desi ghee.as while using in dishes it ‘s smell is lacking.

  12. Cynthia July 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Ummm, I can smell how fragrant that ghee is. Beautiful pics as usual.

  13. Kirti October 28, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Hello,
    I wish to ask you a very basic question… how do you store your malai in the fridge?
    I mean do you
    1) store it in container with a lid in the fridge or in the freezer?
    2) or do you keep it in a container without a lid in the fridge?

    Why I am asking you such stupid questions is because i stored my malai in a container with a lid( old school tiff-in box) in the fridge for about 10 days… On the day i took the container out the cream gave me a bitter taste…. i did not know what to do…? and lastly is adding the yogurt/ curd culture compulsory?

    Please do reply to the above questions as I am not getting my answers anywhere..
    Regards
    Kirti

    • admin October 28, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Hi Kirti,
      I store my malai for not more than a week. I keep it in a steel container with a lid.
      The yogurt culture reduces bitterness and gives a good flavor to the ghee. Try it and let me know how it turns out for you. 🙂

  14. Kirti October 29, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Hello ,
    Thanks and love for such a super fast reply.
    Can I know your good name please and we need not store our malai in the freezer right … I can store i with the lip covered in the fridge itself?
    Regards
    Kirti

  15. Chitra November 8, 2013 at 5:13 am

    This reminded me of my childhood days. When we were young, my mom used to make curds with the milk cream layer on top and collect the top layer from curds. Once a week, we used to put the collected amount into a Horlicks bottle with some water, close the lid tightly and keep shaking it, to and fro till the butter was formed. Those were the days without the mixer/blender in our house. The resultant butter milk was for drinking or kadhi as you do 🙂

  16. Kirti November 12, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Hello Saee,
    I have stored my malai in a closed container in the fridge for around 8 days. Yet after following your suggestion of adding yougurt culture and leaving it on the kitcen counter for 6-7 hours for making butter, I found out upon making tasting the butter that it was mildly bitter…. Though the butter has been regrigerated for another day to make ghee the next day again as per your suggestion, 🙂 can you tell me why my butter is turning bitter?
    Looking forward for making some yummy tasting sweet butter
    Regards
    Kirti

  17. meera November 12, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Hi Kirti, I am sure Saee as the expert will have a better reply. But what I do is, I wash the butter for a long time under running water.

    It is quite simple. Since when you make it it is cold, it will be hard. Or you refrigerate it till it gets hard (I have even washed soft butter). Then turn it on your palm under the water or use a strainer underneath and keep tossing it till it gets washed, This removes all bitterness. The bitterness is caused by the lurking whey water inside.

    You will be amazed at how dramatically the taste changes with washing.

    • meera November 12, 2013 at 2:38 am

      Just make sure you keep the tap running at very ‘slow’ flow, the water should not gush out. A soft flow that does not disturb the butter.

      • Kirti November 13, 2013 at 12:54 am

        Hello Meera,
        Thanks for your advice. I will definitely use this piece of info the next time. I think it wwill be easier for me to wash the soft butter since once it hardens after being refrigerated for a day then it might be difficult to do so…

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