The Role of Ghee in Indian Kitchen

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The Role Of Ghee in Indian Kitchen By Rohan Shetty

The Study Analysis on Importance of Ghee By Rohan Shetty ( Food Scientist )

Walk into an Indian household’s kitchen, you are bound to find a bottle of ghee in there.
Ghee is a very central part of Indian culture being used widely for cooking and garnishing a
variety of foods, but is also used for religious ceremonies and also in Ayurvedic medicine.

How is ghee made?:

Ghee is a form of clarified butter that is produced through slowly heating it to separate the
milk solids present within it. These milk solids consisting of proteins and remnant sugars
become separated by density as it heats. Whey proteins float to the surface and can be
skimmed off, while casein sinks to the bottom.
Ghee and clarified butter are mostly similar however a key difference between them is when
it comes to the separated milk solids. In clarified butter they are extracted right away
following which the liquid is stored to cool. In ghee however it is cooked for longer which
allows the milk solids to undergo a chemical process known as caramelization. This produces
the distinctive golden-brown colour, aroma and flavor in ghee which makes it a staple in
Indian cooking. A mid-low temperature and extended cooking time are recommended in
order to minimize burning of milk solids which can ruin the taste, quality and edibility of the

Are there any health benefits to ghee?:

In this day and age, it can be easy to get lost in the endless stream of information not knowing
what is accurate. Just browsing on ghee you will get about fifty contradictory pieces of
Ghee much like butter is rich in butyric acid which has been shown to aid digestive health,
support healthy gut microbiota and reduce inflammatory processes. Studies have shown
consumption of butyric acid in moderation reduces the risk and severity of a variety of
gastrointestinal illnesses such as IBS, dysbiosis and even colon cancer. Butyric acid is an
important supplement for anyone suffering from digestive ailments. In addition it has a
number of antioxidants which have led researchers to theorize it may have anti-cancer
Now it might be easy to assume that since it is a fat it is unhealthy. However, fat too is an
important part of a healthy diet along with protein, carbohydrates, fiber and water. It is more
important to consider the type of fat we are consuming than the amount. Saturated fats and
trans fats commonly found in fried and processed foods is what we must be vary off.
Not to worry though, ghee is rich in unsaturated fats which is why it is a liquid at room
temperature. A study by Sharma, Zhang and Dwivedi in 2010 showed that consumption of
ghee in moderation is correlated with decreased cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease
risk. A number of nutritionists have begun to advocate for the usage of ghee and clarified
butter as a result. It is also a preferable option for those who are lactose intolerant.
Finally the shelf life of ghee is significantly prolonged as well. Removal of milk solids means
there is minimal ability for bacteria to grow and spoil them unlike butter or milk, allowing
them to be stored at room temperature for months on end.

What is vegetable ghee? Is it a healthier option than ghee made from animal sources?:

Vegetable ghee or vanaspati in Hindi, is produced primarily from palm oil. Vegetable oils
unlike animal based oils and fats are usually liquid. Therefore they are hydrogenated and
hardened for consumption. Vegetable ghee lacks the same golden colour as pure ghee and is
often used as an adulterant since it is much cheaper and faster to produce.
Surely it must be healthier since it is vegetarian? Unfortunately due to the process involved in
producing it, vegetable ghee has a high amount of trans fat which can cause rapid weight
gain, high cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes and coronary heart diseases. In addition
vegetable ghee is commonly created from re-used cooking oils such as vegetable oil or rice
bran oil. Thus animal sourced ghee such as from cow and buffalo milk are a much safer and
healthier option than vegetable ghees.
Vanaspati or vegetable ghee is produced through the hydrogenation of palm oil. It is a much
cheaper alternative to regular ghee and is a vegetarian option thus making it preferred for
consumption. It is produced through hydrogenation and hardening of oils directly extracted
from plants. Unlike animal fats, plant fats are liquid at room temperature thus require
hydrogenation to be solidified for consumption.
It doesn’t end there. Ghee has since begun to be adopted as a delivery system for drugs and
treatments. Nanoparticle trials of temozolomide, a chemotherapeutic used for the treatment of
brain tumors, has shown favourable results utilizing ghee as a delivery agent. Vedic sciences
have historically extolled the benefits of ghee as a therapeutic which suggest that they may
have untapped medicinal properties.

How can I use ghee for cooking?:

The most common way to use ghee is to garnish foods. You can apply it on your dosa, or mix
it in with your rice and dal to add to the taste.
For cooking food itself it can be used as an alternative for butter or lard. Due to the absence
of milk solids, it is less likely to burn. Its smoking point is much lower than traditional
cooking oils therefore if used for frying must be used with care since it can burn easily at
higher temperature. However using ghee in cooking can really elevate the flavour of your
dishes. I use ghee to cook a number of proteins and they have always tasted incredible.
And the ghee doesn’t have to be plain ghee either. You can add a number of condiments to
enhance its flavour while cooking such as curry leaves or cardamom or cinnamon. As long as
it is cooked at a low heat, it will produce some excellent flavours.

What is unique about Gir Cows?:

The name is derived from Gir cows from which the milk is used to produce the ghee. Gir
cows are an Indian cattle which are renowned for being very hardy being able to tolerate a
variety of stresses such as weather and even tropical illnesses. The average Gir cow can
produce between 6 – 10 litres of milk per day. The milk is known to be much more nutritious
compared to milk produced by commercially available cows which are often subject to
genetic modification. Organic Express is committed to raising these cows under humane and
environmentally friendly conditions with no genetic modifications or cross-breeding.

So, to sum it up, ghee is incredible! It is a very healthy option when it comes to cooking and
food, but more importantly it tastes simply amazing. Apply even a few drops, and your mouth
won’t stop watering be it idli, dosa or rice dal. If you want one in your kitchen why look
further? Organic Express’ crown jewel – the Gir Ghee is available on our website. Made from
the fresh hand-churned butter straight from the scenic farms of Sakaleshpur, the ghee is
produced with incredible quality. No adulterants, no preservatives – straight from the farm to
your table. Order now from: Organic Express for Pure A2 Gir Cow Ghee

By Rohan Shetty
M.S. Bioinformatics, Johns Hopkins University
M.S. Biotechnology, Johns Hopkins Univesity
B.S. Cellular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego
Banasiewicz T, Domagalska D, Borycka-Kiciak K, Rydzewska G. Determination of butyric
acid dosage based on clinical and experimental studies – a literature review. Prz
Gastroenterol. 2020;15(2):119-125. doi:10.5114/pg.2020.95556
Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (eds.) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global
Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World’s Animal Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed January 2017.
Sharma H, Zhang X, Dwivedi C. The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels
and microsomal lipid peroxidation. Ayu. 2010;31(2):134-140. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.72361
Balasubramanian K, Evangelopoulos M, Brown BS, et al. Ghee Butter as a Therapeutic
Delivery System. J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2017;17(2):977-982. doi:10.1166/jnn.2017.12623