Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian (Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepali and Pakistani) cuisine.

The word ghee comes from Sanskrit: घृत (ghṛta, IPA: [ɡʱrit̪ə] 'sprinkled') and has several names around the world (Bengali: ঘী ghee, Punjabi: ਘਿਉ ghyo, Hindi: घी ghī, Gujarati: ઘી ghī, Maithili/ Nepali: घ्यू ghyū, Urdu: گھی ghī, Oriya: ଘିଅ gheeo, Marathi/Konkani: तूप tūp, Kannada: ತುಪ್ಪ tuppa, Malayalam: നെയ്യ് ney, Tamil: நெய் ney, Telugu: నెయ్యి neyyi, Somali: subaag, Arabic: سمنة samna, Persian: روغن حیوانی roghan-e heivani), Indonesian: minyak samin, Hausa: Man shanu).



Ghee is made by first making butter, and then clarifying it. One begins by boiling cow's milk, then turning off the stove. Once it reaches room temperature, a thick layer of cream is formed on top of the milk.

The cream is removed each day and stored in a container and refrigerated. At the end of the week, the collected cream is brought to room temperature and churned using a wooden churner (kavvam in which language?) or ladle until the butter separates (after approximately 12 to 15 minutes). 3-4 cups of water are added to this and churning continues for a minute or two until the residue is a thick buttermilk. The buttermilk is then strained. The butter (called vennapusa in Telugu) is washed in water at least 4-5 times. This thoroughly washed butter can now be used to prepare ghee.

To prepare ghee, the butter is usually melted in a stainless steel vessel over medium high heat. The butter begins to melt, forming a white froth on top. It is then simmered, stirring occasionally and the froth begins to thin slowly and the color of butter changes to a pale yellow shade. Then it is to cooked on low heat until it turns a golden color. The residue solids settle at the bottom and the ghee, which is now clear, golden and translucent with a fragrant smell, is ready. The ghee is then filtered, and it will solidify when completely cool. Ghee can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration, provided that it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation and remains moisture-free. The texture, color, or taste of ghee depends on the source of the milk from which the butter was made and the extent of boiling and simmering.

Religious use

Real ghee is made from cow's milk (गोघृत go-ghṛta) yogurt and has a sacred role in Vedic and modern Hindu libation and anointment rituals (see Yajurveda). There is also a hymn to ghee.[1] Ghee is also burnt in the Hindu religious ritual of Ārati (Aarti) and is the principal fuel used for the Hindu votive lamp known as the diyā or dīpa (deep). It is used in marriages and funerals, and for bathing mūrtis (divine idols) during worship.

In other religious observances, such as the prayers to Lord Krishna, Śiva (Shiva) on Janmashtami, Mahā-śivarātrī (Maha Shivaratri), and other Hindu festivals, ghee is served in Pañcāmṛta (Panchamruta) along with four other sacred substances: sugar, honey, milk, and dahī (yogurt). According to the Mahābhārata, ghee is the very root of sacrifice by Bhīṣma. Also, it is used generously in homam or yajña since it is considered as food for the Devas.

Ghṛta (ghee) is the Sanskrit descendant of Proto-Indo-European *ghrei-, "to rub," "to anoint," which evolved into Khristós in classical Greek usage, meaning anointed or covered in oil, and was used to translate Hebrew "messiah" ("Anointed"), evolving into Latin Christus and English Christ. Christ" (pronounced /ˈkraɪst/) is a title derived from the Greek Χριστός (Christós), meaning the "Anointed One", a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Messiah).[citation needed]

Usage in food

A dosa in South India served with ghee

Ghee is widely used in Indian cuisine. However, it is mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is probably Akkadian in origin[citation needed]. In many parts of India and Pakistan, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bengal, Orissa and many other states, rice is traditionally prepared or served with ghee (including biryani). In the Bharuch district of Gujarat, Ghee is served with kichdi, usually an evening meal of yellow rice with curry, a sauce made from yoghurt, cumin seeds, kari leaves, ghee, cornflour, tumeric, garlic and salt. 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 uses large amounts of ghee. Naan and roti are sometimes brushed with ghee, either during preparation or while serving. Ghee is an important part of Punjabi Cuisine and traditionally, the Parathas, Daals and Curries in Punjab often use Ghee instead of oil, in order to give the food added richness.

Ghee is an ideal fat for deep frying because its smoke point (where its molecules begin to break down) is 250 °C (482 °F), which is well above typical cooking temperatures of around 200 °C (392 °F) and above that of most vegetable oils.


Like any clarified butter, ghee is composed almost entirely of fat; the nutrition facts label found on bottled cow's ghee produced in the USA indicates eight mg. of cholesterol per teaspoon. Ghee is very high in Vitamin A and Vitamin D content. It can be supportive for eye, legs, hands and bone health.[citation needed] Ghee helps the absorption of not only vitamins and minerals but also phytonutrients.[citation needed]

Ghee has been shown in one rodent study to reduce serum cholesterol slightly, but not significantly.[2] 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 because of its lower cost. This "vegetable ghee" may contain 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.[3] Ghee is also sometimes called desi (country-made) ghee or asli (genuine) ghee to distinguish it from "vegetable ghee."

Outside South Asia

Several cultures make ghee outside of South Asia. Egyptians make a product called samna baladi (سمنة بلدى IPA: [ˈsæmnæ ˈbælædi], 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, an unrefrigerated 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. Among pastoralist communities in East Africa such as the Nandi, Tugen and Maasai communities, ghee and flocculated by-products (Kamaek) from ghee-making were traditionally used as cooking oil.

See also


  1. ^ [Language and Style of the Vedic Rsis, Tatyana Jakovlevna Elizarenkova (C) 1995, p. 18.]
  2. ^ Matam Vijaya Kumara, MV; 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. PMID 10715590. 
  3. ^ "Sellers of fake ghee booked in Hyderabad". Chennai, India: 2006-02-22. Retrieved 2007-03-03. 

External links

Ghee- A Short Consideration from an Ayurvedic Perspective, Light on Ayurveda Magazine 2005

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ghee — (g[=e]), n. [Hind. gh[=i] clarified butter, Skr. gh[.r]ta.] Butter clarified by boiling, and thus converted into a kind of oil. [India] Malcom. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ghee — ● ghee nom masculin (anglais ghee, du sanskrit ghī) En Inde, matière grasse constituée de beurre clarifié …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Ghee — [gi:] das; <aus gleichbed. engl. ghee zu Hindi ghi, dies aus altind. ghṛtá »gereinigte Butter«> in Indien zum Kochen verwendetes, aus Büffel u. Kuhmilch hergestelltes butterschmalzähnliches Fett …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Ghee — Ghee, in Indien u. Arabien so v.w. Butter …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ghee — (engl. spr. gih), s. Bassiafette …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • ghee — [gi:] n [U] melted butter made from the milk of a cow or ↑buffalo, used in Indian cooking …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • ghee — [ gi ] noun uncount butter used in Indian cooking …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • ghee —    (ghee) [Hindi] In India, a type of clarified butter made from buffalo’s milk or cow’s milk, used in cooking …   Dictionary of foreign words and phrases

  • ghee — ► NOUN ▪ clarified butter used in Indian cooking. ORIGIN from Sanskrit, sprinkled …   English terms dictionary

  • ghee — [gē] n. [Hindi ghī] in India, the liquid butter remaining when butter from cow s milk or buffalo milk is melted, boiled, and strained …   English World dictionary

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