Ghee, Ghee’er chanka and Trivia
Ghee is sacred : Ghee is unhealthy. Ghee is celebrated : Ghee is fattening. There are too many sides to the arguments on ghee. Let me here put in my bit on ghee – it is fragrant. It is delicious (may be not as delicious as butter but this is a personal choice). It makes all the difference to Indian curries. It lifts any vegetable to unprecedented heights!
In Hindu mythology, Prajápati Brahma created ghee by rubbing his palms together and then poured it into fire to engender his progeny. Whenever the Vedic ritual of pouring ghee into fire is performed, it is an enactment of creation. Butter in mythologies the world over is a symbol of semen – churning represents the sexual act and also the formation of a child in mother’s womb. Next time you eat butter/ghee, try not to think about this!
Myths aside, first documented mention of making butter was in the sacred songs of the tribe dwellers of Asiatic India, dating back to 1,500-2,000 B.C.E from cow, yak and horse milk. As butter came to Southern Asia, it was clarified to stabilise the milk solids, thus making ghee.
Ghee, specially made from cow’s milk is rich in useful fatty acids, vitamins, anti-oxidants, as well as numerous other minerals. It has been used for centuries as digestive aid, for energy, sexual vitality, skin and eye care, respiratory care, as lubricant for joints and for alkalizing the blood. In short it is supposedly good for longevity and as anti aging! Just do not overdo it, says modern science!
I am partial towards ghee made from cow’s milk. I find it most appealing to my olfactory senses and taste buds! The partiality increases in geometric progression when it is homemade. The smell of ghee that engulfs the house is a reason good enough to try this simple activity which only demands the virtue of patience.
The by product of the process is the prized ghee’er chanka – the caramelised milk solids left behind once the liquid ghee is strained. It is right on the doorsteps of heaven, not sure why mythology missed this one!