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One of the most potent and versatile foods in Ayurvedic cooking is ghee, made by cooking high quality butter over a low flame until the proteins and sugars cook out and water evaporates. The pure fat is left behind, fragrant and delicious; it doesn’t need to be refrigerated as the fat is fully saturated and thus cannot become rancid. Properly made ghee tastes better as it ages.

Ghee is used not only in daily cooking, helping to convey the wonderful flavors of any spices used, but is considered a vehicle for delivering medicinal herbs to every cell in the body. As the body needs fat for lubrication of the joints, moisturizing the skin from the inside, and building and maintaining the structure of the cells themselves, ghee is a perfect food from the Sacred Cow, the representative of the Divine Mother Herself, the understanding that the Creator of the Universe provides for us everything we need to maintain vibrant health the way a mother provides for her children.

Making ghee can also be a metaphor for our own lives. We put ourselves to the test (or the universe does it for us), refining and purifying our bodies and minds so that we can become the vehicle for nourishing others’ journeys. If we push ourselves too hard we will burn out and others will not find us “palatable”. If we don’t strive enough we may hold onto memories, impressions, or habits that fester and prevent us from accomplishing our full potential. With patience and full attention we can cook ourselves just enough so that the impurities are removed (still nutritious but having served their purpose) and just the Divine Healing Presence remains.

Use organic unsalted butter (if you can get raw milk butter it’s even better); cook it over a low to medium flame in a stainless steel or other high quality pot. Listen to the interesting sounds it makes as it cooks, watch the foam rise to the surface and eventually sink down to the bottom. When things quiet down and the liquid begins to turn brown, turn off the heat and allow it to cool before pouring out the ghee into a clean jar (use a strainer to make sure the sediment doesn’t end up in it).

Mix some brown sugar, raw sugar, or maple sugar and cinnamon into the sediment and spread it on toast – it’s quite nutritious and tasty! And once your ghee cools you can put the lid on the jar and either store it for a while or begin using it right away…

December 2009
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