So as I mentioned last week, I recently had some pals over for a whole bunch of curry, and I was very eager to impress them. One of them is sort of mad for paneer, and so am I, because it’s the best thing ever, so I wanted to get some and make super delicious palak paneer. However, finding paneer in the Netherlands is no easy task. I tried about 5 different shops, each time getting directions from one shop where they didn’t sell paneer to the next.
With each attempt, the shops got more and more unlikely, to the point where the lady from the Surinamese shop suggested a Pakistani shop, which I couldn’t find for the life of me. I asked a lady who was smoking a cigarette outside her knitting shop, who pointed to a shop two doors down called ‘Miranda’s Afro Cosmetics’. “I don’t know…”, I objected, “That looks like a wig shop. Plus, afro cosmetics, it feels more Caribbean than Pakistani to me…”. The lady would have none of my moaning: “Oh, Caribbean, Asian, they all eat pretty much the same things, don’t they? Tasty fried bananas and stuff…”
“Sod it, I’m buying cheese cloth.”, I said a little too loud, which got me some funny looks and a sympathetic clap on the shoulder from the smoking lady. If I couldn’t get my hands on any paneer, I would just make it myself. Or so I thought. But I failed miserably. My milk wouldn’t curdle properly, and I ended up having to make something different altogether. But now I did have a cheesecloth, and seeing that I needed ghee for the curry feast as well, I made some of that instead. HA! You thought we were making paneer, didn’t you? Joke’s on you, we’re making ghee.
Ghee, or clarified butter, is used in all sorts of food, but I used mine mostly as I’d normally use oil, i.e. for frying. Normally it’ll go hard as it cools, but I used almost all of mine up before it did so I couldn’t take a picture. The colour will normally also be a little lighter, but the picture turned out a little bit dark.
So, for a jar ful of ghee, you will need:
- 250 gr unsalted butter
You will also need a clean jar and a cheese cloth, or otherwise a super clean tea towel. If you’re using a tea towel, maybe rinse and dry it before you use it, or you risk getting a soapy flavour.
So you stick your butter in a pan and you melt it carefully on medium heat so it doesn’t burn. When it’s all liquidy, turn the heat to low. The butter will make a bunch of noise while it boils, this is good. When the noises stop, this means the butter is clarified – check by parting the foam on top and seeing what it looks like, it should be a clear, light-coloured liquid, and the milk solids (little chunky crumbs) will be at the bottom of the pan.
Fold your cheesecloth so you get two layers, then carefully pour the liquid through and straight into the jar. Leave the ghee to cool, then use it and keep whatever you have left in the fridge.
The milk solids, or the chunky bits that remain in your cheesecloth filter, are said to be quite delicious. I didn’t have the opportunity to use them, but if you have time, save them and make something nice out of them.