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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Indian ghee.

Ghee (Hindi: घी ghī, Nepali: घ्यू ghyū, Urdu: گھی ghī, Bengali: ঘী ghi, Marathi: तूप tūp, Kannada: ತುಪ್ಪ tuppa, Tamil: நெய் ney, Telugu: నెయ్యి neyyi, Somali: subaag, Arabic: سمنة samna) is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia,[1] and is commonly used in South Asian (Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani), Middle Eastern (Levantine and Egyptian) and Somali cuisine.



Ghee, also known as Clarified Butter in Anglo countries, is made by simmering unsalted butter in a cooking vessel until all water has boiled off and the milk solids, or protein has settled to the bottom. The cooked and clarified butter is then spooned off to avoid disturbing the milk solids on the bottom of the pan. Unlike butter, ghee can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation and remains moisture-free.[2] Texture, colour, or taste of ghee depends on the source of the milk from which the butter was made and the extent of boiling.

Religious use

The word ghee comes from Sanskrit ghṛtə घृत ("sprinkled"). It has a sacred role in Vedic and modern Hindu libation and anointment rituals (see Yajurveda). There is also a hymn to ghee.[3] Ghee is also burnt in the Hindu religious ritual of Aarti and is the principal fuel used for the Hindu votive lamp known as the diya or deep. It is used in marriages and funerals, and for bathing murtis during worship.

In other religious observances, such as the prayers to Shiva on Maha Shivaratri, ghee is served along with four other sacred substances: sugar, milk, Dahi or yogurt, and honey which is called the Panchamrut. According to the Mahabharata, ghee is the very root of sacrifice by Bhishma. Also, it is used generously in Homam or Yagna as it is considered as food for Devas.

Usage in food

A dosa in South India served with ghee

Ghee is widely used in Indian cuisine. In many parts of India, especially in Gujarat,Bengal and Orissa, rice is always served with ghee (including Biryani).[citation needed] Ghee is also an ingredient as well as used in the preparation of kadhi and used in Indian sweets such as Mysore Pak, and different varieties of halva and laddu. Punjabi cuisine prepared in restaurants use large amounts of ghee. Masala is made by the combination of spices with ghee. Naan and roti are sometimes brushed with ghee either during preparation or while serving.


Like any clarified butter, ghee is composed almost entirely of saturated fat, the nutrition facts label found on bottled cow's ghee produced in the USA indicates 8 mg of cholesterol per teaspoon.

Ghee has been shown to slightly, but not significantly reduce serum cholesterol in one rodent study.[4] Studies in Wistar rats have revealed one mechanism by which ghee reduces plasma LDL cholesterol. This action is mediated by an increased secretion of biliary lipids.

Indian restaurants and some households may use hydrogenated vegetable oil (also known as vanaspati, Dalda, or "vegetable ghee") in place of ghee for economic reasons. This "vegetable ghee" is actually polyunsaturated or monounsaturated partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, a trans fat. Trans fats are increasingly linked to serious chronic health conditions. The term Shuddh Ghee, however, is not officially enforced in many regions, so partially hydrogenated oils are marketed as Pure Ghee in some areas. Where this is illegal in India, law-enforcement often cracks down on the sale of fake ghee.[5] Ghee is also sometimes called desi (country-made) ghee or asli (genuine) ghee to distinguish it from "vegetable ghee".

Proponents of the Paleolithic diet recommend cooking with ghee instead of processed seed-derived oils.[6][7]

Outside India

Several cultures make ghee outside of India. Egyptians make a product called سمنة بلدي (samna baladi, literally meaning "local ghee"; i.e. Egyptian ghee) virtually identical to ghee in terms of process and end result. In Ethiopia, niter kibbeh (Amharic: ንጥር ቅቤ niṭer ḳibē) is made and used in much the same way as ghee, but with spices added during the process that result in a distinctive taste. Moroccans (especially Berbers) take this one step further, aging spiced ghee in the ground for months or even years, resulting in a product called smen. In Northeastern Brazil, a non-refrigerated butter very similar to ghee, called manteiga-de-garrafa (Butter-in-a-bottle) or manteiga-da-terra (Butter of the land), is common. In Europe, it is also widely used. For example, Wiener Schnitzel is traditionally fried in a version of ghee called Butterschmalz.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Ghee -- Indian clarified butter". Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  3. ^ [Language and Style of the Vedic Rsis, Tatyana Jakovlevna Elizarenkova (C) 1995, p. 18.]
  4. ^ Matam Vijaya Kumara; Kari Sambaiaha; Belur R. Lokesh (February 2000). "Hypocholesterolemic effect of anhydrous milk fat ghee is mediated by increasing the secretion of biliary lipids". The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 11 (2): 69–75. doi:10.1016/S0955-2863(99)00072-8. 
  5. ^ "Sellers of fake ghee booked in Hyderabad". Retrieved 2007-03-03. 
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GHEE (Hindostani ghi), a kind of clarified butter made in the East. The best is prepared from butter of the milk of cows, the less esteemed from that of buffaloes. The butter is melted over a slow fire, and set aside to cool; the thick, opaque, whitish, and more fluid portion, or ghee, representing the greater bulk of the butter, is then removed. The less liquid residue, mixed with ground-nut oil, is sold as an inferior kind of ghee. It may be obtained also by boiling butter over a clear fire, skimming it the while, and, when all the water has evaporated, straining it through a cloth. Ghee which is rancid or tainted, as is often that of the Indian bazaars, is said to be rendered sweet by boiling with leaves of the Moringa pterygosperma or horse-radish tree. In India ghee is one of the commonest articles of diet, and indeed enters into the composition of everything eaten by the Brahmans. It is also extensively used in Indian religious ceremonies, being offered as a sacrifice to idols, which are at times bathed in it. Sanskrit treatises on therapeutics describe ghee as cooling, emollient and stomachic, as capable of increasing the mental powers, and of improving the voice and personal appearance, and as useful in eye-diseases, tympanitis, painful dyspepsia, wounds, ulcers and other affections. Old ghee is in special repute among the Hindus as a medicinal agent, and its efficacy as an external application is believed by them to increase with its age. Ghee more than ten years old, the purana ghrita of Sanskrit materia medicas, has a strong odour and the colour of lac. Some specimens which have been much longer preserved - and "clarified butter a hundred years old is often heard of"- have an earthy look, and are quite dry and hard, and nearly inodorous. Medicated ghee is made by warming ordinary ghee to remove contained water, melting, after the addition of a little turmeric juice, in a metal pan at a gentle heat, and then boiling with the prepared drugs till all moisture is expelled, and straining through a cloth.

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Simple English

A jar of ghee from India.

Ghee is a product made from butter. It is used in Indian cooking as a form of oil or cooking fat. It is made by boiling butter until all the water has evaportated out and the milk solids have settled to the bottom.

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