Two of the most commonly used milk products in the homes of Asia for cooking are ghee and butter. Ghee is a variant of butter that is very popular in such countries as Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Although you may not be familiar with the term “ghee” you may be familiar with such terms as drawn butter, butter oil or clarified butter. Some may know it as AMF or anhydrous milk fat.
Ghee is the ideal medium to use for deep frying food because it has a high smoke point. It is also great for sautéing and baking. Unlike the use of butter, there is no odor when you use ghee. Butter does have an odor to it when you use it for cooking because milk solids. When they are heated they precipitate and as a result, the solids sink to the bottom of the pan and burn causing a bad smell to permeate the air in the kitchen. Ghee does not contain milk solids, which is why you are able to bring it to a high temperature and not be able to smell anything from it. It does not affect the taste of the food in the same way that butter does.
Ghee results from the clarification process of butter. Two of the by-products are ghee casein and lactose and when these are removed from butter, the resulting ghee is very easy for the body to digest. Those who have allergies to lactose and milk products would benefit from using ghee instead of butter. In fact many doctors recommend ghee to their patients.
Another benefit of ghee is that it has a longer shelf life than butter. Butter needs to be refrigerated whereas ghee can last without refrigeration for two or three months. There is no moisture in ghee because it has all been removed in the butter clarification process. If you keep ghee in the refrigerator it can last for years without spoiling. The longer you leave it the better it is. Like aged wine, aged ghee has many health benefits.
Although on its own there is a taste to butter, it does not enhance the taste of the food you prepare using it. Ghee, on the other hand, adds to the flavor and the aroma of food. Another difference between these two products is that ghee is alkaline, but butter is acidic.
In the Middle East, ghee goes by the name of samrah, but it is still not the same as the product that is used in India. There are varieties of ghee all over the world, but according to the research they have carried out on the product, none of them compare to the Indian variety.
- Ghee and butter are both milk products.
- Although it is called clarified butter in the western world, the ghee that is produced in India has different properties.
- Ghee can be heated to very high temperatures without causing a smell, but butter smells bad when it burns at a high temperature. Butter does not add to the taste or aroma of food whereas ghee does.