Nothing takes an Indian meal to the next level like a spoonful of ghee. Our diverse cuisines have always had that one fragrant dollop in common. It’s healthy, tasty and can be used to enhance the taste of everything. Thus, it makes it important for us to check how this clarified butter is made.
What is ghee made of?
The traditional method of making ghee (bilona) is quite elaborate. Cow’s milk is boiled and cooled. Then a spoonful of curd is added to this milk and kept at room temperature overnight. The curd is then churned to extract butter from it. This butter is then boiled so that the water evaporates leaving behind pure ghee.
As you can see, the process is quite slow and traditionally, all of this was made at homes without any use of machines. When ghee-making became a major revenue churner for the dairy industry, things changed. Very few brands, like The Nature’s Way (TNW), based in Gujarat, retain the age-old practices of hand-churning ghee.
The commercial production of ghee:
Ghee is a half a billion-dollar industry in India which witnessed a growth of 11.1 per cent between 2011-18. Clearly, the demand for our favourite dairy product is going to diminish anytime soon. But this growth also means that millions of people now depend on commercial manufacturers of ghee. Ghee is not made at home any more, especially in urban areas; it is an addition to the monthly grocery list.
The traditional methods of setting curd in earthen pots, churning butter in wooden vessels to make ghee are lost. To fulfil these ever-expanding demand, mega-companies use automated machines that churn out hundreds of kilograms of ghee in a few minutes. The production processes run throughout the day, filling thousands of plastic bottles with the mass-produced ghee.
Some popular brands are also guilty of making it from malai or cream obtained from milk instead of curd. This type is faster to make and gives better milk to ghee ratio as compared to the bilona variety. But at the same time, it cannot be digested easily.
Where do we get bilona ghee?
As consumers, we must know what we are eating- especially when it comes to frequently-used products like ghee. Even in these technologically advanced times, TNW relies on a small staff that hand makes ghee and uses wooden and stainless steel vessels.
Pintu Suvagiya, an employee at the organisation explains to The Better India, “We use cow milk, which is rich in the A2 protein. We have set the process in such a way that the demand does not lead to any form of contamination. For instance, ghee is made from butter only between 4-6 AM because the cool climate and pre-dawn time are perfect for this process. If the demand is for, say, 1 kg of ghee, we start with 20-25 litres of milk. If the demand is half of that, we take only 10-15 litres of milk. Our vessels are earthen and our team small so we give you the ghee that feels home-made.”
If health, raw materials and intricate details in processes are factors of concern to you, TNW checks all the boxes.
In order to compete and sustain in the market, manufacturers compromise on the quality of ingredients and even the procedures, to reduce costs. Don’t let the price tags fool you. Buy what is truly authentic.
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(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)