Ghee and Ghee Rice
After giving much thought to the single most valuable recipe I could share with beginner cooks, I have come to the conclusion that it just wouldn't be right if we all didn't know how to make ghee (pronounced like bee but with a g) I am also adding a recipe for basmati rice with ghee.
Ghee is used regularly in many Indian recipes and is an essential part of many Hindu religious ceremonies. Recently, ghee has also gained a large fan base among the foodie population. I personally use ghee instead of vegetable oil in many different recipes...not just Indian food. Ghee is basically clarified butter which is made by gently simmering unsalted butter until all the water has evaporated and the proteins have separated. This process gives the resulting product a very high smoking point, around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes ghee perfect for tempering spices and also for frying if you so desire. Ghee can be purchased from most Indian grocery stores and also other specialty stores however, making it at home will save you some money and also ensure your ghee is fresh and pure (vegetable oil is sometimes found in low quality ghee). So, without further digression, here is the priceless recipe.
Preparation Time: 1-2 hours
(This recipe makes enough ghee to store and use for some time)
4lbs of unsalted butter
Remove the butter from the packaging and place in a heavy bottomed, large pot on medium heat. Once all the butter is melted, lower the heat to as low as it will go and let simmer uncovered. As the butter is simmering some of the milk solids will rise to the top. Keep simmering the butter checking on it every now and then to make sure it is not burning. You will know the ghee is ready when it turns a clear golden colour. When clear remove from heat and allow to cool for a while in the pot. Then strain through a thin cotton cloth to remove solids. Be very careful during this process as the ghee is still very, very hot. I like to strain the ghee into a stainless steel container with a tight lid for storage. Ghee will keep for a few months in a cool dry environment. Make sure to use a clean, dry spoon when taking ghee to use from your storage container.
Basmati Rice with Ghee
Preparation Time: 20 mins.
Makes 3 generous servings
1 cup uncooked white basmati rice
1 tablespoon ghee
1 3/4 cups water (to speed up cooking time this can be boiling water)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the uncooked rice in a sieve and wash thoroughly under cool water until water runs clean. (Rice and some other grains are often not pre-washed before they are sold so it is always a good idea to rinse a few times before using). Set washed rice to the side to drain a little. In a saucepan melt the ghee on medium heat until liquefied and hot. Add the drained, washed rice and stir gently. Fry the rice for a couple minutes evenly coating the all the grains and stirring gently to prevent sticking. Add the water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil uncovered. Once the water is boiling reduce the heat to low and cover with lid. Cook for approx 15 minutes, or until all the water is gone. Turn off the stove and let the rice sit for 5 minutes covered. Fluff, offer and serve.
If your cooked rice is too sticky try adding a little less water next time. For undercooked or unevenly cooked rice ensure that you turn the heat to low as soon as the water begins to boil and cover tightly so that the steam has enough time to cook the rice thoroughly. As with all cooking the more you practice the better the results...so cook often and don't be discouraged if your cooking is not at first perfect, keep trying.
Basic instructions on ghee, rice, paneer and other introductory recipes can be found in 'The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking' by Adiraja Dasa:
I recommend this for all beginners because it's a great reference for the simplest recipes, as well as providing more information about vegetarianism and spiritual food preparation.
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