Ghee, that was a good meal!

In a previous post I mentioned ghee as a product I’ve been using lately as a butter substitute. Today I want to share more information about ghee and my experiences with it.

To the western world Ghee (pronounced rhymes with “key”) is known as clarified butter. In India and Southeast Asia, where Ghee is used in daily cooking, it is seen as a sacred Ayurvedic butter and its traditional preparation has been used for centuries. While it is not completely vegan or vegetarian, its main difference from regular butter is that in its preparation, all of the water and milk particles are evaporated (thus making it a potential useful product for those with lactose intolerance, and of course, also for those who have problems with candida). Pure ghee or traditionally prepared ghee does not have any additives or salt.

Some also believe that Ghee has therapeutic properties. Its benefits may include:

  • increasing longevity and brain function
  • acts as a general tonic (the older the ghee, the more powerful)
  • increases fertility
  • removes excess bile
  • enhances the voice and throat
  • can be used as a salve for abscesses, minor wounds or burns
  • useful for ulcers or respiratory problems
  • can be used as a vehicle for medicinal plants
  • low-fat and aids digestion

Whether you believe in ancient Ayurvedic medicine or not, ghee is a great substitute for butter or oil in just about any recipe. Some of its common uses are:

  • as a substitute on plain toast
  • a universal cooking oil
  • a good skin moisturizer
  • for baking, sauteeing vegetables, in stews, and in desserts

It should be mentioned that ghee can be cooked at a higher temperature without burning so it’s exceptionally useful when preparing vegetables. It also has a longer shelf life…homemade ghee can last a year at room temperature!

If you want to purchase ghee it’s best to start your search at a natural food store or a large grocery store that sells international food items such as Whole Foods or Wegmans (if you’re living the US). Just make sure that you buy ghee that has been derived from animals–not the hydrogenated oil kind (it will be devoid of all the properties I mentioned above). If not, you can try at an Asian food store. If you still have no luck or want to try your own hand at making ghee, it involves a somewhat tedious process but is not overly difficult to prepare. I found a great website that details every step of the ghee making process, check it out!

Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about ghee and its wonderful uses, I want to share a quick and delicious recipe I tried last night. The taste blew me away (I really wasn’t expecting it to turn out so good) and the feeling after I had finished eating was incredible. With every bite I felt that my stomach was smiling at me and my strength was growing stronger–seriously! And just in case you think it was only power of suggestion, I can assure that I felt as if my body was being restored even BEFORE reading about all of ghee’s naturally therapeutic properties. It was truly a restorative meal.

String Beans and Zucchini Curry

Simple yet tasty

Makes 4 servings

  • 1/2 pound fresh string beans
  • 1/2 pound fresh zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped and crushed into small pieces)
  • 1/4 tsp dark mustard seeds
  • salt to taste

I am a bit ashamed to admit that this was my first time cooking fresh string beans (I’ve certainly eaten them before, just never took the time to do it myself). As a city girl, I usually buy my string beans frozen or worse in a can *shudders*. I actually had to look up ways of preparing fresh green beans…:O! But now that I know how to do it, I’m never going back. If it’s your first time too, it’s quite simple. Just wash the beans carefully and sit them in a colander. Then cut off the top end and the bottom end of the pod. Then make a cut down the side and remove any string (here I can only find “chaucha de vaina balina“…all the beans are in a long casing and you have to open them to cook). If you have the “snap” kind of green beans, you can snap them in half instead of cutting them and any string is easily removed by snapping off the top and bottom half.

After I prepared the beans, I broke them into 2 inch long pieces. Then I washed the zucchini, peeled it, and cut off the top and bottom ends. The original recipe says to just cut it into small rounds but since I didn’t want the skin, I peeled it before that step. Then I peeled and diced the onions into small pieces. Using my wok (you can also use a pan or a skillet), I sautéed the onions with ghee over medium heat. Once the onions turned soft and sort of tan in color I added turmeric, cumin, and coriander (the recipe calls for the mustard seeds at this point but I didn’t have any. if you are using mustard seeds wait for the seeds to start jumping in the pan, then add those other spices).

I also added a few left over crumbs from my rosemary buckwheat bread (recipe details coming soon!)

Sautée the onion until it is totally covered with the spices. Then add the string beans. Mix and cover them for 4 minutes (at this point if you feel that the onions are burning you can add more ghee like I did. just a little bit). Lastly, add the zucchini, chili pepper, garlic and salt. Cook everything together for 8-10 minutes. I continuously was moving all of the ingredients around, making sure everything was coated in ghee and the spices.

Rating: 5!!!

As you can see it’s quite a simple recipe but I promise you, it was so good, I was excited for the next plate before I finished the first (and I cleaned my plate twice!). I loved the crunch of the beans combined with the softness of the zucchini. The ghee really adds a unique taste and aroma to your food. If you’re wondering what it tastes like, I’d say it’s not as salty as regular butter and much more smooth. It really acts as more of an oil. Next time I’d like to try the recipe with mustard seeds to see if it makes any difference.

Well…I’m off to enjoy a glorious day in bed (haha still not feeling a hundred percent but much better than yesterday). I might make a final helping of this recipe and hope to get that same healing sensation again.


–R. Mackenzie

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