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Ghee is an important substance in any Ayurvedic lifestyle. The clean, lactose-free purified fat from our peaceful bovine friends nourishes, purifies and cleanses every part of a human. Ghee is a beautiful way to integrate much needed oil into the body, helping with things like joint lubrication, good digestion, and healthy bowel movements.
Making your own ghee has its own therapeutic and spiritually enhancing benefits. The process takes time and attention, and can be practiced as a cooking meditation. The subtle energies of your ghee cooking are transferred into the foods you eat your ghee with, bringing peace and love to each and every meal.
What You Need To Make Ghee
- Organic, unsalted butter. The more directly sourced the better! As with all dairy products, grass-fed and no-hormone/antibiotic use is the best.
- A big pot, preferably stainless steel or ceramic.
- A gas stove. On an electric stove it is easier for the ghee to take on rajasic qualities and even burn. If using electric, cook on the lowest setting you can and keep a steady eye on your ghee. It is also possible to make ghee in the oven*.
- Cheese cloth and a rubber band.
- Container for storage. Any glass jar with a sealable lid are good as they can withstand heat. avoid using plastic tupperware.
What You Need To Do
- Over a low flame setting, melt your butter in the pot. *If using the oven, place butter in an oven safe pot at 250 degrees F (there is no need to preheat).
- Once the butter is all melted, you can adjust the heat as needed so the butter is peacefully bubbling. No energetic boiling – the melted butter should have a light simmer. You will notice a white film gathering at the top of the ghee – these are the impurities we are clarifying out of the butter.
- If you like, at this point you can use a wooden spoon to gently scrape off this white film and discard. This is not necessary, as the impurities will naturally cook out or sink to the bottom of the pot the closer the ghee comes to finishing.
- For a more meditative practice, chant the Gayatri mantra, or any other mantra you like while scooping. In this way, we clarify our mind as we clarify the ghee.
When you can see through the ghee straight to the bottom of the pan, your butter is clarified and the ghee is finished. *If cooking in the oven, this process takes about 1 hour per pound of butter used. It is always a good idea to continually check on your ghee, as ovens vary in heat and intensity and altitude can play a role as well. Check the progress of your ghee around 30 minutes. As the ghee becomes clearer and clearer, check on it at more regular intervals to make sure it doesn’t overcook and burn.
Quickly turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner (carefully) or you will burn your ghee! If your ghee burns, make sure to not consume it. In this case, you can use your burnt ghee for a ghee candle.
Wait a few minutes to let the ghee slightly cool before straining into your jar. The ghee should still be melted and hot while you strain – it strains best this way.
Straining your Ghee
Take the easy way and secure your cheese cloth over the mouth of your clean jar with a rubber band. This way, you won’t burn your fingers or risk the cheese cloth falling into the clean ghee. Gently pour the ghee from the pan into your container. Wait until the ghee cools a bit before you lid your jar.
Always use a clean, dry spoon with your Ghee to avoid contamination from other food particles or water.
With minimal contamination, Ghee has an impressively long shelf life. There is no need to refrigerate your ghee. The smell should remain buttery and sweet.
If your Ghee starts to smell pungent, or cheesy – it may have been contaminated and gone bad.
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Basic Vagar (Spiced Ghee)
Vagar is a technique in Indian cooking which involves adding certain spices and ingredients to hot oil. This technique activates and enhances the flavors of the spices that you will use in your cooking.
- Ghee or high-heat oil (sunflower or avocado oil work well)
*Commonly used spices include: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and black pepper. Feel free to get creative with your spices!
In a small pot, heat your ghee or oil up over a medium flame. Once the ghee or oil has had enough time to heat up, add your spices. It is helpful to start with adding a few mustard seeds to the oil and listening for them to pop. If they pop, the oil is hot enough and the other spices are ready to go in. Be careful not to burn your spices or oil – the spices should only cook for about 60-90 seconds.
Kitchari is a main staple of any ayurvedic diet. This is a deliciously detoxifying and cooling mixture of mung dal and basmati rice with mixed veggies and spiced ghee (vagar). There are countless variations to the recipe depending on your body’s constitutional needs, the season, your current status of digestion, and taste preferences. This whole food is a great way to reset the system and get your digestion back on track!
1 cup white basmati rice
1 cup moong dal
4 cups liquid such as bone broth or water
Spiced ghee (vagar) salt/toppings to taste
Rinse the rice and dal in warm water.
*Optional: Soak your grains in water if you like. This will soften the grains and dal before they cook. If you soak, only do so for 30 – 60 minutes. Soaking the grains neutralizes the phytic acids contained within them. Since phytic acids bind to minerals like iron and are indigestible, neutralizing the acid by soaking increases your ability to absorb the nutrients better.
Using a large ceramic pot, bring the rice, dal, and cooking liquid to a steady, gentle boil. Using a medium-low heat will help foster a steady, neutral energy in your food, and this will transfer into your body as you eat.
Add your veggies (NOT THE LEAFY GREENS) directly into the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and leave for 20 – 30 minutes. Turn heat off when the liquid is fully absorbed and the grains are cooked.
*This is a fast and easy way to cook your kitcheri! The rice, dal, and veggies (such as carrots, beets, potatoes, etc., will all cook together in the same pot.)
Make your spiced ghee (vagar) if you haven’t already. In a separate pot, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add your spices. When the mustard seeds start to pop, turn off the heat and remove pot from stove.
Add any leafy greens you’re using to the top of your pot of cooked rice, dal, and veggies.
Pour the hot vagar over the top of the leafy greens. Be careful for popping spices! This is a really nice way to flash fry your leafy greens and mix the spiced ghee into the rice and veggies.
Mix all together and serve with salt and additional toppings good for your Dosha:
Vata Pacifying: fresh ginger
Pitta Pacifying: coconut, cilantro, lime
Kapha Pacifying: Skip the salt and go for some nutritional yeast, ginger, or black pepper
5 large organic dates
2 – 3 Tbsp organic almond butter
3 tsp ghee
1 handful almonds, walnuts, pecans, or roasted sunflower seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp grated/ground vanilla or organic vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 c oats (can use a variety of ready to eat grains)
In food processor, blender or magic bullet, grind the granola, spices, extracts, and nuts. Grind until granola is almost like flour and nuts are chuncky. Chop dates by hand into small pieces. Add the almond butter and ghee along with the granola mixture. Using your hands, combine all ingredients as if you were kneading cookie dough. Note: if mixture is too dry, use more ghee. If it is too wet, use more ground oats/grains – this is an intuitive and creative process, so don’t worry if you stray from the ingredient list! Once combined, roll mixture into individual balls. Put into a glass container or jar and chill for a minimum of 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator when ready to serve, letting them come to room temperature.
To help ensure that you digest them well, serve with a nice warm cup of digestive tea such as ginger, cinnamon, fennel or mint. Enjoy!
1.5 cups milk (almond milk is a good nut-milk alternative)
2 tsp of spice mix sweetener (maple syrup, agave, *see note on honey) 1 tsp ghee
1/4 cup turmeric powder
2 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp ginger powder
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp other spices if desired (saffron, cardamom, nutmeg, etc.)
blend and store in a tight jar.
Bring milk to a low boil. Turn heat off and add 2 tsp of spice mix (or desired amount), while stirring gently. Once milk has cooled a bit, add desired sweetener to taste and a tsp of ghee.
* If using honey, never add honey while milk is still hot. Cooked honey denatures and turns into ama-causing, system clogging badness. Honey should always be raw, and only added into drinks and foods that are warm, and never hot. Also, ghee and honey should never be equal in weight – always measure them as equal in volume.
What’s better than ghee? Medicated ghee! Medicated ghee is a great way to incorporate your daily ghee and herb intake in a way that’s going to be the most nourishing to your tissues. What’s even better is that you can make it yourself at home in a few easy steps.
*Please talk with your practitioner or counselor before starting a medicated ghee regimen. With all Ayurvedic medicines, it is highly recommended that you discuss your herbal options with your practitioner or Ayurvedic counselor first. It is important that any contraindications are taken account of, and that your formula is adjusted as needed. Medicated ghee is not for everyone!
Make your ghee. We use 4 lbs of butter for these recipes.
In a large pot (stainless steel or ceramic is ideal) add your herbs and fill the pot 3/4 of the way full with fresh water. Put the pot over a low flame, and watch for a simmer. Allow the herbs to simmer in the water for 1 – 2 hours (this ensures that the herbs absorb the maximum amount of water, which keeps the ghee from absorbing and gives you the maximum yield of medicated ghee at the end.)
Add your ghee! (I like to run my jar of ghee underneath warm water so that it melts and I can get all of it out of the jar easily.)
Keep a low simmer in your pot for about 2 days. Continue to add water to the pot as needed. You want to keep a consistent eye on your medicated ghee as it cooks. It’s easy to forget about it and then it ends up burning because the water cooks out too fast. If you leave your house for more than a few hours, just turn the stove off and cover he pot with a lid. You can always resume cooking when you return.
Once the medicated ghee has cooked for long enough, and all the water has evaporated, strain your ghee with cheesecloth and store in an airtight jar. *Refrigeration is not needed
Medicated Digestive Ghee Herbs
Total Herbs – 6 Ounces
4 parts Fennel Seed (3oz)
1 part fresh Ginger (.75oz)
2 parts Cumin Seed (1.5oz)
1 part fresh Turmeric (.75oz)
Ojas Building Ghee for Men
Total Herbs – 6 Ounces
4 parts Ashwaganda (3oz)
1 part Saw Palmetto (.75oz)
2 parts Shatavari (1.5oz)
1 part fresh Turmeric (.75oz)
Ojas Building Ghee for Women
Total Herbs – 6 Ounces
4 parts Shatavari (3oz)
1 part Ashwaganda (.75oz)
2 parts Wild Yam (1.5oz)
1 part fresh Turmeric (.75oz)
Ayurvedic Vegetable Soup
A delicious, hearty soup that will warm the soul. This is a basic recipe that can be played up or down as much as you like. Be sure to check out the Dosha Eating Chart to see which ingredients support your constitution!
- Basmati Rice
- Vagar (Ghee & Spices)
Make your vagar. Lightly saute vegetables in the vagar and set aside. Put your broth, along with some water over a medium-low heat. Add rice and quinoa (the grains will cook in the broth, and the water will cook off by the end). After the grains begin to soften, add chickpeas if desired. Cook 10 minutes. Add the rest of your vegetables and cook until desired consistency is reached. Serve with some toast and ghee!
Sweet Potato Curry
1 Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup diced Carrots
1/2 cup diced Leeks or Onion
1/2 cup chopped Cauliflower
2 Tbsp Ghee
3 Tomatoes, chopped
1 large bunch spinach, kale, chard, or dandelion greens
1 Tbsp grated fresh Ginger
1 can Coconut Milk (full fat)
1 Tbsp each of ground Cumin and Curry
1/2 tsp Fennel
2 tsp Coriander
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cardamom
1 tsp Sea Salt
Heat 1 Tbsp of ghee in skillet and saute the sweet potato along with the leeks and onion. Let cook for 10 minutes, then add your carrots and cauliflower. Cook 10 more minutes. Add tomatoes, ginger, and greens and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
In a separate medium sized pot, heat the remaining 1 Tbps of ghee and add all of your spices. Pan fry until golden and fragrant (about 1 minute – don’t let it burn.) Add your veggies to the pot, plus the remaining ingredients and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let stand until ready to serve (keep on a low simmer for richer flavor)
Serve over basmati rice, or along with chapati. Garnish with fresh cilantro, coconut, or some lime.
Oatmeal with Ghee
1/2 cup Oats
2 Tbsp nuts
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ghee
1 Tbsp maple syrup (or other sweetener)
1 cup milk *reduce or increase depending on dryness in body
Place all ingredients together in a pot. Stir over medium heat until desired consistency has been reached. Top with fruit, nuts, or more ghee!
Bone broth is an infusion of bones that can be used in almost anything. The pure nourishment and nutients from the marrow is extracted during the cooking process and turned into a delicious broth. Bone marrow is immediately related to the nervous system via Majja Dhatu – the nervous tissue of the body. Consuming bone broth regularly provides direct nourishment to these deeper tissues and helps replenish the nervous system, which allows for a stabler, healthier body and mind. Bone broth helps build great Ojas.
Add bone broth to soups, rice, sauces, or drink it on its own! Perfect for high Vata or generalized nervous system disorders.
- Bones (Chicken bones are great for high Pitta/Kapha. Beef or Lamb bones are best for high Vata.
*Ensure bones are from humanely treated, clean animals. Marrow holds everything – good and bad – which can include things like hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. Be concious when purchasing bones; the closer the animal to you, the better. Local farms, Kosher or Halal markets, and natural foods stores with high standards are good places to find bones.
- Distilled water
Chicken Broth: 3 – 4 lbs boned per gallon of water
Beef/Lamb Broth: 7lbs bones per gallon of water
Place bones in a pot (preferably a crock pot) and fill with water. Cover pot with lid and let simmer over low heat for 24 hours.
If you’d like to infuse your bone broth with herbs fit for your constitution, add herbs in 2 – 3 hours before taking your bone broth off of the stove. Strain herbs out and your infusion is complete.
Store in an air tight mason jar and keep in the refrigerator for daily use. Can be frozen for up to a month.