Monday, 12 May 2014

How To Make Ghee (Nei) - The Traditional South Indian Method - Home Made Ghee

                The very second the Drumstick leaves are dropped in the hot ghee, the lovely crackling sound and the aroma wafting through the air, will bring my son where ever he was running to the kitchen and ask with such happiness in his face, if it was going to be ghee rice with that ‘leaves’ for lunch that day. A delightful food experience that he will never forget, like I never did.

                     He grew up on home made ghee until we had the luxury of fresh milk from our home bred cow. I remember making a litre or two of ghee every few months and add a tsp of ghee while feeding him dal rice or with rasam, or with greens, or with sambar almost every day and all that ghee never made him fat. A tsp of home made ghee made the traditional way is recommended for good health, even otherwise I wouldn’t say no to home made ghee.  If you have ever made ghee the way we South Indians make, I can assure you that, neither the experience nor the aroma of the ghee made in this manner will leave your memory ever.

                  To make ghee, we need butter. Butter can be made in two different methods. Traditionally butter is churned from home made curd on a full moon day and the ghee made from the traditionally churned butter happens to be the healthiest and the pure form of ghee suitable for consumption, especially for growing kids. It takes only less than a day to make ghee using the traditional method.

          In the traditional method of churning butter, the reason I have used a clay pot is, due to its earthen nature the clay pot keeps the content cool and the butter is churned far quickly than when churned in other vessel and moreover the narrow neck of the clay pot prevents the liquid from splashing all over and spilling outside while churning which is what usually happens when made in a regular vessel making the entire surrounding a messy place. I would strongly suggest to use a clay pot if following this method for the best result.

The second method is by collecting the cream that settles on top of the milk for several days ( a little curd is added to the cream halfway through the collecting period) and then the collected cream is churned to extract butter which is then melted to make ghee. The ghee made in this manner is of second quality with little health benefits as it is neither made fresh nor it is properly cultured like the traditional method.The ghee made in each of this method has its own character and effect when consumed.

                    I have shown the two methods of making ghee right from scratch, from milk to curd to butter to ghee, which happens to be the traditionally practised method of churning butter in a time when there was no refrigerator or other electric gadgets and the second method of churning butter from cream collected over a period of time. However since it is not feasible for all to get fresh cow milk you can use fresh cream available in some bakeries or in stores in cartons to churn butter. If in India you can use Milky Mist Fresh Cream to churn butter.

Empty the contents of the carton ( chilled milky mist cream) into a bowl and beat using an electric beater on high speed until the butter separates leaving behind butter milk. I have tried this too successfully, although I wanted to include this in the video, since I didn’t have any store bought cream in hand I couldn’t . Butter churned in this method can be used to make ghee following the procedure shown in the video. In the video you will see:
How to make Curd from scratch using raw milk,
How to make butter from curd
How to make butter from cream
How to make Ghee from Home made butter, in the traditional SouthIndian method.

Home Made Ghee ( Nei) from scratch, using whole milk/ How to hand churn butter from Curd/ How to churn butter from Cream

Since it is always advised to use melted ghee for better health, store the ghee in a steal jar with a handle as it will be easy to melt the ghee whenever needed.

Don’t ever be mislead by suggestions that tell you to use commercially available butter to make ghee, as what you will be getting is only melted butter and not ghee. I have tried that too during a period when there was no more cow and no more fresh milk and when I was desperate for home made ghee. I tried making ghee with the commercially available butter and without a second thought, it went straight down the sink hole. For someone who have tasted real ghee for years and made from scratch using fresh raw materials, I can say with conviction that the methods I have given here are the only best ways to make home made ghee and I would suggest to never ever make ghee from store bought butter, because it is not ghee, it is just plain melted butter.

The same procedures can be followed to make ghee using buffalo milk too, but the ghee made from buffalo has its own character.
Don’t try to make using store bought milk you will not succeed. I have tried that too using milk with even 6% fat , churning for more than an hour and there was not a trace of butter.
The milk we buy in packets undergoes various stages of processing not just stripped of its nutrients and fats but added with various chemicals to prolong its shelf life so it is not possible to extract butter from commercially available milk and the same applies to butter blocks that you buy from the store, which is not fit for making ghee.
The ghee on cooling begins to solidify with a lovely sand like texture  as seen in the picture. ( Shot on the second day of making)
For the second and third method the cream must be cold before it is churned.
Don’t use frozen milk, avoid even the so called organic milk that comes frozen, the truth is, it is barely edible, can’t take more than a sip !
Try to source fresh milk from someone who owns a cow for the best home made ghee that is absolutely nutritious and flavoursome.

Apart from cooking, Ghee can be applied on mouth ulcers to get cure. It also helps in treating skin rashes. Also when skin is scalded, ghee can be applied to prevent the formation of a scar.

Save a little ghee until I post my next recipe using the ghee which is going to be an even more traditional food, which you might not have heard of!


  1. Ghee..sounds simple but a lovely post on it. I went back to my childhood days, having been grown up in a village now I miss making ghee at home in chennai. My sis will be so tempted when I mix sambar saadham with lots of ghee for my lil son... waiting eagerly for ur next post based on ghee ;)

    1. Sambar saadham with ghee and the subtle flavour of fried drumstick leaves, who can resist it. Speaking of which, tempts me to eat a bowl of rice right now! We also love to sniff the can of ghee every time before using it, to inhale the aroma of the ghee which naturally increases our appetite. Home made ghee has such wonderful flavour.

  2. Why add drumstick leaves? Can I add other herbs?

    1. You can use curry leaves instead of drumstick leaves. The ghee gets the flavour of the leaves used. Make the ghee as instructed above and try inhaling the flavour of the ghee and I promise you will do that every time you open the can of ghee before you use it. You have to experience that, to understand what I actually mean.


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Finally on this day of october the 1st, 2012, I have decided to include the comment form, after a long gap of two years. But, I am going to be a bit selfish here and keep all those nice and lovely things that is said for me and only me to cherish and will be sharing any queries that requires clarifications and your experience about the food if you have tried my recipes. So, drop in a word if you have anything to say and thanks a lot for stopping by.
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