Nothing beats the rich aroma of ghee as it spreads on your thin crisp dosa turning it brown while melting on the tawa leaving ships sailing in your mouth.
What ghee can do to any dish is just beyond expression? I mean you add ghee to hot cooked rice with a tinge of salt and top it with your favorite-st pickle, mine being the delight of andhra -the king of pickles-called “avakkai” and dig in your fingers into hot rice, give the rice a swish and a swash, watch the rice turn yellow, red and a delightful orange, your fingers sticky, your nostrils widening to take in the aroma and off you go….start eating it, I mean! Your face brightens with a divine smile, the presence of the lord god himself on your lips, and all that you manage to do is to coo..hmmmmmmm…….
Ghee is that special item which is given liberally to kids and frugally to adults, that wonderful delicacy causing every child to say no to chutney or the fiery gun powder and turn to grand moms pleading… ghee and sugar please….and surely the pleas are heard.
My grandmother, silver locks, kumkum, kajal, chandana kuri and all would sit in the ‘naduppura’ churning butter milk for hours together to extract butter. A little of this fresh butter would be given to the youngest in the house and those who impress grand mom with their youthfulness or I am still a kid argument! The extracted butter would be preserved in bharanis or clay jars and accessed only by seniors in the house.Twice a day as grandfather goes to milk the cows, he takes with him a pinch or more of butter, dancing in a bowl of water. Every two to three days the dollops of butter would be melted in a kadhai or pan and what you call clarified butter or ghee is made. The ghee then is partitioned in such a manner that it is available in the kitchen, in the secret hoarding place-‘kalavara’ and with grand father who uses it for his ayurvedic medications.
I always complained that due to his misleading angelic looks and the sweet boy appearance, my brother always got the best of everything…moms’s love, dad’s affection and lots and lots of ghee.
I was always teased for eating too much, including that of my brother’s share.Added to this was the regular stupid taunt that I was bought from the market in exchange for a hay stack-this taunt never failed to bring tears to my eyes as a kid. My mom is an excellent cook and would prepare delicious unniappams, payasam,murukku, ada etc. for evening snacks. Amma knew the value of her cooking and always forbid us from over-eating, saying, “What will you eat for tomorrow?”This, of course, didn’t stop me from stealing a little more than my share. My brother, being the good boy, rarely did anything improper.
When I started cooking, I always used ghee to my advantage. For that perfect tadka or the laddu or the sooji ka halwa, ordinary cooking oil cannot do the magic that ghee can do. And of course, dosa which becomes the royal ‘Nei Dosa’ with a spoonful of ghee.
I am especially pleased with the famous dietitian, Rujuta Diwekar who advises regular use of ghee for good health. Didn’t I know it already?