Ghee, or clarified butter, is an important part of Indian cooking and plays a significant role in Ayurvedic cooking and Hindu traditions. Ghee is really simple to make and only requires butter and your attention. It can be used in place of butter and oil when tempering spices, both whole and ground. Ghee is often used in Indian sweets, like halva and laddu and is delicious spread on hot rotis right off the stove and mixed into hot rice or khichedi, a comforting mix of lentils and rice. Ghee is also used for lighting divyas, or oil lamps, at home and at temples.
I started making ghee well before I was tall enough to reach the stove. My brother and I would build little houses out of sticks of butter in a large pot, which my mom would then place on the stove. Then we would eagerly watch as the "house" melted. It was so much fun!
It is fairly easy to make ghee but the process requires you to pay attention as ghee can brown or even worse, burn quickly. So don't wash dishes or other errands once the butter starts to boil! You will need 1 lb of unsalted butter (organic, if you prefer), a large, heavy bottomed pot, a dry pot to pour the hot ghee into, a jar to store the ghee, and a fine sieve or cheesecloth for straining. Make sure the large pot is deep as the butter will get fairly foamy and increase in volume as it boils.
Place 1 lb of unsalted butter in a large pot and heat over low heat. Melt the butter and continue cooking over low heat. Foam will rise to the surface as the milk solids separate.
If you skim off a bit of the foam to the side, you will see a brown sediment (the cooked milk solids) settling on the bottom of the pot through the bubbles.
The foam will start to settle and the ghee will continue to boil with tiny bubbles. The ghee should be clear and golden in color. Be careful to not let the ghee brown or become darker. At this point, remove the ghee from the heat. Don't leave the pot on the hot stove as it will continue to cook.
Carefully strain the ghee into a clean dry pot using a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove any sediment. It will be hot! Discard the sediment at the bottom of the pot.
Carefully transfer the strained ghee into a jar for storing. You may have seen ghee (and oil) stored in small metal containers like these on the kitchen counter in an Indian home. Ghee can be kept at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated.