Cooking

Ghee Whiz

A new take on an ancient staple

Although it may not be the default cooking oil here, ghee, or clarified butter, is a necessity in many Indian households. And now, California producer Ancient Organics is aiming to turn it into a kitchen staple for everyone else as well.

Matteo Girard Maxon, who runs the Berkeley-based company, uses a traditional Ayurvedic recipe to make his ghee. The process involves cooking pounds of butter supplied by the lauded local Straus Family Creamery in stainless steel pots until all the moisture evaporates and the milk solids sink to the bottom.

The result is pure and golden with a richly concentrated flavor. It quickly caught the attention of chef Russell Moore at Camino restaurant in Oakland, who used the ghee in nearly every dish as part of a Bollywood-themed Monday night pop-up, including a fragrant fried basmati rice (click here to see the recipe), which we recently paired with brick chicken for a weekend dinner.

Boasting a flash point of 485°, Ancient Organics' ghee is nearly impossible to burn. Try it drizzled on popcorn or roasted with nuts and spices; chill it and use in place of butter for the flakiest piecrust imaginable. Or take a cue from Maxon's "gheenola," a maple- sesame granola mixture that's been selling out at the San Rafael Farmers' Market within an hour.

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