Some call it the 'Cultured Ghee'. More popularly, it is called the 'Desi Ghee' - we are talking of Ghee made from Dahi and not Malai. Have you tried the 'Dahi-Ghee' we make in Bhodani? Check it out here.
While mass-produced Ghee made using direct cream (malai) of Jersey cow milk was taking over the shelves at the supermarkets - here at our small village in Maharashtra, farmers with their wives and children were laboriously churning out fresh raw Makkhan from Dahi (curds), and without even knowing it, gave birth to the first ever Ghee that melted under body temperature! Little did they know that this 'Dahi-Ghee' would soon find a special place under the spotlight.
The TBOF Desi Ghee is Bhodani (our village) for you in a bottle!
It has nuance. It has strong character, a retro personality of its own.
Here is a food that was born during the time of sages in our country, and in that age it owned sacred corners in kitchens and 'vaidyashaalas' and was exalted to a glorious position among the 'Pancha-amruts'. Several thousand years have gone by and it's so fascinating that a food that the sages and rishis of yore called the 'elixir of life' (producing Ojas - reinforcing immunity and awareness) would make such a vehement comeback into our lives after being dumped by an entire generation of consumers who were blinded by conspiring theories and false propaganda floated by the food industry.
The quality of Ghee really depends on factors such as the quality of milk (affected by the physical and mental health of cows producing it), method of preparation, the cookware used, storage and packing conditions etc. Pure Desi breed of Gir Cows were brought in when we started out for Deshi Gaay Gobar and Gomutra (Desi cow dung and Desi cow urine) which are the only two things we use as inputs on the farm. The milk was always considered as a by-product.
Our cows are family.
We do not tie our cows.
They feed freely on naturally grown fodder.
Sometimes on a scorching summer noon, they are treated to juicy melons and sugarcane. :-)They are left to walk around the farms as daily routine which is a good form of physical exercise ensuring fitness.
The Gir breed of cows have a very strong sense of motherhood. The calves are never separated from their mothers, the baby calves are always given their share of milk first before milking the cows. This contributes in a big way to the quality of milk our cows produce.
No cow is artificially inseminated. They are not injected or not allowed to feed on anything artificial. They graze freely.
And yes, before you ask, the male calves are just as special as the female calves. It is a false notion that the male calves are useless or not productive. They have an important role to play in ensuring pure breeding of the Gir variety. They definitely contribute to the overall health - both mental and physical - of the herd. So, our male calves live with us on our farm and play all day with the children in the village and other female calves. :)
At TBOF we do not use cream (or malai) to make ghee.
Hence there is no question of collection and storage of cream.
Our Gir cows are milked everyday - at specific times. This is fresh whole milk; it does not undergo procedures like pasteurization or toning or skimming. The milk, as it is milked from the udder is poured into large iron kadhais and brought to a slow boil over firewood. The weather here in Bhodani is dry and hot. Hence, boiling (but on a slow, sustained and low fire) is necessary to prevent spoilage.
Once boiled, it is inoculated with curds. It is left overnight to ferment and the entire batch of Dahi formed is then used to make Ghee. The Dahi is slowly churned in a traditional to-and-fro motion using churners to separate milk solids from the liquids.
Now, what we are left with is freshly churned raw white 'Makkhan'!
This Makkhan is not anything like the butter you get to buy at the store. You have to taste it, smell it, touch it, to feel it's complexity. It has subdued notes of buttermilk running through it. A sharper flavor of Dahi cuts through its creamy buttery texture.
The fresh probiotic Makkhan is then heated in traditional ironware on very slow heat using firewood to clarify it and make Ghee. At most times, sun baked cow dung cakes are also used as fuel.
The fact that we do not use cream or direct-butter and use direct unpasteurized milk and then convert it to curds ensures that the ghee we make is extremely light on the stomach, is easily digested and quickly absorbed with all its nutrients intact.
At small farms like ours where love and care for animals are consciously practiced, the calves are fed their share of milk before the cows are milked – which makes every litre more expensive.
Manually milking cannot be compared to industrial machine extraction of milk - a process that does not recognize bleeding udders. The cows are tied, fixated in compartments during milking and made to feel like robots.
So, yes - we milk our cows using our hands.
We do not carry out machine-milking of cows. This again adds to cost as machine milking squeezes out the last drop of milk, which isn't the case when we do it with our hands, many a times responding to the mood of the cow and determining when milking needs to stop.
Why is Ghee made from Dahi nutritionally far superior or healthier than direct-cream Ghee?Let us answer this in the specifics -
1. The process of fermentation imparts a lot health benefits to Ghee. The Ghee made from direct cream is not as light on the stomach as Ghee made using Makkhan that is formed from a process of fermentation.
2. The Dahi is slowly churned to separate Makkhan - this Makkhan is washed multiple times (4-5 times) to remove all traces of milk. This step is critical to ensure the Ghee does not spoil. Thus cultured Ghee has a longer shelf life as compared to direct-cream Ghee. This step also makes it possible for many lactose-intolerant people to have this Ghee, as almost all of the lactose and casein is removed.
3. Ghee made from Dahi has a relatively higher amount of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) than direct-cream Ghee which reduces risk of heart disease, cancer, insulin resistance, arthritis, IBS etc. DHA also increases digestive fire (agni) and improves absorption and assimilation. It nourishes dhatus, improves memory, and has lubricating activity in joints. The high DHA in Dahi-ghee is mainly attributed to rich microbial flora used in starter curd culture. Lactic acid bacillus cultures along with added lactose and fructose are shown to promote formation of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
4. Dahi-Ghee also has a higher concentration of phospholipids and butyrate acid - this is a short chain fatty acid which heals the intestinal walls. So Ghee is especially good if you are managing conditions such as constipation, IBS, leaky gut, Crohn's disease etc.
5. Cultured Ghee can be used very effectively in the treatment of chronic diseases, inflammatory and degenerative conditions.
6. Dahi-Ghee also called Desi Ghee can mobilize stubborn fat. There have been multiple studies done to prove that they help reduce levels of LDL or bad cholesterol.
7. When compared to direct cream Ghee, Cultured Ghee is relatively higher in Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which is a major component of retinal and brain tissues and remains important in prevention of various diseases.
Click Here, you may refer to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine which published a study that concluded Desi Cultured Ghee made from Curds being superior to regular direct-cream Ghee or clarified butter.
What about its cost - why does this Ghee cost 5-6x the cost of some really cheap options available in the stores?
Approximately 28-32 litres of Gir cow desi milk are required to prepare one litre of Gir cow Desi Ghee. One litre of Gir cow A2 milk will cost you anywhere between Rs 80-Rs 110 in the market today. Desi cow milk has lesser fat content as compared to the hybrids and foreign breeds. This again adds to the cost of production. Add to this packaging cost (without plastic), manual skilled labour, incorporation of traditional ancient techniques used in the preparation, transportation cost etc.
One of the main factors bringing about a drastic reduction in cost is factory based, mass production. Mass production means bulk buying. There is a forced reduction of the cost of ingredients and raw materials right at the source.
Almost all of the cheaper brands (who sell at half of the price we sell at or even drastically lower) source butter directly from various suppliers - mix together all grades of this sourced butter, clarify it, package and sell. Cost is cut at every stage –
- While sourcing (quality of butter here is not exactly important. Different grades are mixed to cut cost). There is no way of knowing the source of ingredients used. Milk of different types of cattle, including animals like goat and buffalo are used to cut cost. The Jersey and Holstein Foreign breeds produce several times the quantity of milk than our desi cows. However, this milk with A1 protein is related to various conditions like heart disease, cancer, type1 diabetes, autism and cancer.
- Process - (there are no tedious processes involved – no culturing etc. Direct clarification is done) Injecting cattle with hormones to enhance milk production has also become common practice.
- Packaging (cheaper options like plastic are used). Hydrogenation is a common process used in factory production of ghee to increase its shelf life; this becomes almost unavoidable when production is done in such bulk quantities to avoid spoilage. These bottles of ghee can stay on the racks for as long as needed. Adulteration with Vanaspati due to its physical resemblance is also rampant.
The TBOF Amorearth Ghee has a granular texture - Danedar Ghee they call it locally, creamy granules suspended in a glistening golden liquid with a fond fragrance that will remind you of home....
If you observe closely, you'll see granules evenly distributed through the ghee. If you buy ghee from us regularly then this is not new to you, but have you wondered why this happens, or if its something we strive to achieve or if this granule formation has some nutritional significance?
Medium sized, Semolina/Rawa-like granules distributed throughout the ghee is a sign of superior quality ghee. Granularity in ghee or texture of ghee is something we must be particular about as much as its colour and taste when buying a bottle of Ghee.
Makkhan (raw white butter) that is churned from curds is a mixture of various types of fats (both saturated, unsaturated) and hence the process of crystal formation in ghee is a complex one. The crystallization of the fat molecules in makkhan is what leads to this granule formation. Some of these fatty acids melt at very high temperatures (for eg palmitic and stearic fatty acids) and large size granule formation is attributed to the presence of these fatty acids in big quantities in the ghee.
There are various factors affecting granule formation in ghee - the type of milk used, the fodder/feed the cows were on, breed of cows / buffalos, temperature at which the ghee is made, steps involved in the making of ghee, storage conditions (temperature) etc.
When the cows are fed on grass or green pastures the granules are medium-large and soft fat molecules while they are big-large in size and hard grain-crystal like if the cows were fed on cottonseeds or dry feed - (Think of ghee that hardens to the extent that scooping out with a spoon also is difficult in some cases or the application of heat is required to melt it!)
The desi method of converting milk / cream to curds and churning the curds slowly to collect Makkhan and then clarifying this freshly churned raw butter produces ghee with larger size uniform grains as against the industrial production of ghee from cream or cream-butter that is directly melted and clarified. In most cases the direct cream method produces ghee with no granules at all or very tiny size granules that go unnoticed.
Rate of cooling also affects formation of granules - when the ghee is allowed to cool naturally and slowly the granules are small-to medium sized while the grains could be more distinct and larger if the ghee is stored under lower temperatures immediately after it is clarified.
Storage conditions are very important too - if the ghee is stored at a temperature that is not regulated and keeps fluctuating, then this deteriorates the grain distribution in ghee. Size and quality of grains is better at 26-28 deg Cel than if stored at temperatures higher than 35 deg Cel.
A bottle of Shuddh Desi Cow Ghee prepared the traditional way will have small-to-medium sized soft grains evenly suspended throughout a mild-to-deep golden yellow medium (when milk used is Desi cow milk). Proper fermentation plays a key role in developing and nurturing its characteristic flavor and releasing micro-nutrients that add depth and character to the ghee.
We also always underline the fact that all batches wont be exact copies and there will surely be a minor difference in flavor, texture and other physical attributes.
Standardization especially in the industrial sense means predictability. It means clone copies are mass-produced and that your bottle of Ghee is stripped off every detail that should have otherwise made it special.
A non-standardized and exclusive persona for our products is something that we strive for and celebrate in our farm-kitchen. This exclusivity comes with all things hand-made by real people - who apply their skill, intention and persistence to craft out products that are powerful, with a voice of their own.
Besides the breed of the Cows and the method involved in the making of Ghee, there is something more important that contributes to it's taste - and this is 'Belonging' or 'Place of origin'.
Where does your Bottle of Ghee belong? Or in simpler words, can you trace it's place of origin?
The place where your Ghee belongs or originates from, definitely adds to its character and taste! The grass, the shrubs, the twigs, the herbs, the flowers, the grains - everything that the cows feed on, grow on, reproduce on, gives the resulting Ghee it's taste!
This is why the Dahi-Ghee that we farmers make in Bhodani carries the strength of our soil.
The soil here is revered. All fodder that our cows feed on grow "naturally" from this soil - the grass, the sugarcane, the herbs, and the occasional flowers. They graze freely, making their own choices with what they eat.
There is nothing that we force on them - not even food - so injections or artificial insemination is totally out of question!
There are more reasons for you to buy the Ghee we make at TBOF --
Every time you buy from us, you are not just buying clean, nourishing food for you and your family, but you also give all of us the courage to do what we love to for a living.