Ghee is clarified butter or pure butter fat.
Its main advantage is that it can be heated to a high temperature
without burning. Clarifying involves melting butter in a heavy pan
either on top of the stove or in the oven, letting all the moisture
evaporate and then continuing the heating process until the milk solids
have browned on the bottom of the pan.
To make ghee at home, put 250-500 g unsalted
or cultured butter into a heavy enameled pan, cutting it into small
pieces first. Melt over low heat, then simmer for 10 minutes or so,
during which time it will crackle as moisture is driven off. When it
stops crackling the thin crust on the surface may be lifted off. The
ghee should then be stirred and the cooking continued until the solids
on the bottom of the pan have turned nut brown. Let it cool sufficiently
to handle, then pour the clarified butter off into a lidded jar. Ghee
prepared in this way will keep for months under refrigeration, and for
shorter times without refrigeration.
In India, ghee made from butter is called
usli ghee, meaning real or genuine ghee. Most people use a much cheaper
vegetable ghee called vanaspati. This is made from saturated vegetable
oils which, in order to give them a solid consistency, are hydrogenated.
From a health point of view, this is probably worse than using real
ghee, but more affordable. The processing gives this product a very
similar smell and taste to the real thing.