The most therapeutic work by far in my kitchen each fortnight is the process of churning the cream curds into butter and then watch it melting away separating from its scum to form something so divinely aromatic.
Surprisingly a lot of my friends think it is a mammoth task to do. I know of some who even do not hesitate discarding the milk cream that floats to the top while using the milk. This has to be a ritual and pretty easy to follow provided you use desi ghee often. If you intend to make Indian food often it is well worth it to have a pot of desi ghee with you.
The overall process may take days together of efforts (if you call it an effort).
A few essentials to remember in making this habit
– Have a clay or porcelian or stainless steel pot dedicated to collecting cream in your refrigerator
– Remember to refrigerate the pot until you plan to prepare the ghee
– Churn in lightly with a spoon once in 5 days
– Add a spoonful of curd/ yogurt to enable healthy fermentation
– Do not delay the ghee making process beyond 40-45 days in normal weather and 20-25 days during hot weather
Now jumping to the detailed process.
Milk Cream (Buffalo milk cream/ Cow’s milk Cream) (collected over days or store bought)
1 tspn yogurt/ curd (optional)
1 pot to collect the cream
thick bottom vessel
1) Collect the cream only until you have sufficient quantity. I often collect a litre or 2. Adding a spoonful daily
2) After a few days add a spoonful of curd or yogurt and mix well. This will aide healthy fermentation.
3) When you have sufficient quantity of cream curd you can decide to churn it to extract fresh butter (desi makkhan)
4) To extract the butter, take the cream curd in a large vessel early in the day (preferably before 8:00/9:00 AM)
5) Start churning with hand blender or old fashioned churner.
6) Add ice cubes or ice cold water to help in churning the cream
7) After a while the whey will start separating and butter will start coming together.
8) Using spoon or finger start removing the butter and drop them in another vessel filled with ice cold water. Dont worry if it appears to be dissolving in water. In a while it will start floating back to the top.
9) When you are satisfied on the amount of butter extracted and the whey appears very thin and feel like you may not get more you can discard the whey or use it for making chapatis
10) Wash the butter using the water until the water appears clean. This will ensure aromatic ghee. You have to keep dipping the butter back in the water using finger to remove the buttermilk smell.
11) Now take the butter in a heavy bottomed vessel.
12) Heat it on low flame. The butter will start melting and will keep boiling till there is a crusty scum formed.
13) To taste the readiness, drop a couple of drops of water(carefully). If they sizzle the ghee is ready
14) Let it cool down completely
15) Strain in a pot.
16) Discard the scum – although I know some people use it (will find possibilities soon and make a post)
1) You can add 1/2 tspn fennel seeds/ cardamom pods for additional pods
2) Buffalo milk’s cream will yield white ghee and Cow’s milk will yield yellow ghee