Friday, August 24, 2007


Once upon a time, like many other moms in our country, my mom made ghee at home. Our milk was supplied by a milk man every morning at 5:00 AM, who claimed that the milk was 'drawn' from his cow that very morning at 3:00 AM. We started buying milk in plastic cover only after coming to Madras because the evil madras milk man poured water on top of an already poor Madras milk. Every time she'd pick up the milk packet in the morning, she'd say, "it is not even close to anything like Coimbatore/thirunelveli milk". The problem with milk in Madras was that the cows, well yes the ones you see blocking traffic in Doraisami subway, grazed on the great dustbins of Madras. The elders complained that a cow that grazed on banana leaves thrown out from marriage halls had output quality issues. This meant that it neither gave good milk nor good cow dung. This upset the elders as pure cow dung (I am reminded of the Crazy Mohan 'Satellite Saamiyar' joke - "Komiyam'e cow oda impure, ithula pure komiyam veriyaa") meant a lot to their agarbathis (incense sticks). If all the old mamas in madras took to the streets against the milkman, to protest, their slogans would be "grass, not paper". Incidentally, they would use the same slogan to appeal for legalization of dope.
Well before the days of packet milk, my mom loved making ghee at home. After the friendly neighborhood coimbatore/thirunelveli milkman delivered the milk, she followed the standard process of 'urai kuthi'fying the milk every night (need English word for the process of putting small quantities of yesterday's curd into today's milk, thereby starting the 'athibayankaramulu' scientific process of converting that milk to curd). While this gave out a vile smell when I got up in early in the morning, I looked forward to the ghee it would generate. The resulting curd had a top layer called "Yedu" (I still don't know the English word for this). This Yedu is crucial to the ghee manufacturing process. My mom diligently collected this 'yedu' every day and put it in a separate vessel. Once the 'yedu' quantity had reached sufficient threshold levels, my mom would kick start phase II of the process. She would put all the 'yedu' in a mixie (blender) and the blender would separate the butter milk and the butter from the 'Yedu'. The butter is then heated to make ghee. The butter -> ghee process takes about 1 hour of heating at various temperatures and is a big thing. Of course, this chemistry-experiment conversion had several side effects. It gives out a nasty smell, which my friend ColorKing hated. The smell is so strong that even if you shoved a bottle of Amrutanjan up your nose, you'd still smell the butter. Reminded, me of the acid or chemical in the chemistry lab (was it PbNO3?) that gave out a real mean smell. That chemical, metaphorically, smelled like the fart of an elephant, after it has eaten a 1-Ton truck load of garlic (Don't ask me, how I know it - its all poetic license). So, back to ghee, if I wanted to keep ColorKingaway from my house for considerable periods of time, it was time to ask my mom to make ghee.
Ghee, the most fattiest and the most dangerous of all food items, is my most favorite milk product ( yes! Thiraty Pal comes second). When you are a teenager and your face is buried in pimples, ghee is the last thing you should be eating. Like, onion, ghee in any food item takes that item to another dimension. Ghee in 'seru' (wet sand) form is my favorite. This is a stage in ghee's lifecycle where ghee resembles wet sand or wet cement. Its neither completely solid nor completely liquid. Its in a semi solid state, which some compare to the look of phlegm. Not exactly a motivation for a food item, but nevertheless I'll put it out there. I hated ghee bought directly from shop. Anything Amul was taboo for me. I couldn't bear the smell of it on my food. Especially the ghee made from those nasty yellow color Dalda dabbas.
Nowadays, my mom does not make ghee like that. She just buys butter from a shop and makes ghee out of it. Doesn't taste as well the home-made ghee.


Arvind said...

I'll admit I'm a ghee lover. Like the popular kids' "PB&J" sandwiches in the US, I used to eat Ghee and Sugar sandwiches. Yummy!

I've got to say, making ghee from good butter is still way better than buying bottled Ghee, which is what we do out here nowadays.

Arksantos said...

I remember my grandmother making butter. The "yedu" was put in a "horlicks" bottle and some butter milk was added to it. Then the bottle would be given to me. I would agitate/shake the contents till my arms were sore. Got to be careful about not dropping the bottle too.

When I read that your mom used the blender, I went nuts. My grandma made me do all the work, instead of zapping the whole mixture for couple of seconds. :(

Bharath Sattanathan said...

What about "Kasadhu"? I guess thats the word for it. Once you have finished making the Ghee and emptied into another vessel, the remainings are said to be that I suppose.

These nicely are stuck in the vesell and is an absolute yum to eat with the "vethalai" - which is also used in the process.

Memories! :-)

MLC said...

yaenga! namba "neyyi" pathi oru full post pota modha aal neenga dhaan! ippadi "urugi urugi" yezhirkeengaley:-)!

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Aah I'm nostalgic now --- maybe I'll try hot ghee on rice some day! :)

I said...

does ur mother roast godhuma maavu-sugar mix in the same ilipachetty and serve it as a snack?

Anonymous said...

My mom used to mix rice flour & sugar in the vessel used for making ghee - that was divine! Ah! those were the days...

Blogeswari said...

Bharat sattanathan:

ahaa... I love the Ghee 'Kasandu'..'kasadu' as you call it.. those remains at the bottom of the vessel when making ghee.. It tastes yummy with adai.My appa's onnu vitta chittapa , who stayed in the next street, I believe (1960s la) used to come with a small 'kinnam' only to take the 'kasandu' from my place and hence aptly nicknamed KASANDU THAATHA :)

Bharatram, at 6.30 in the morning, you have made my naaaku come out thinking about vattakuzhambu, saadam, HOME MADE GHEE and sutta appalam.

Babu said...

Once the butter is melted and ghee is made, some add couple of (Karuveypa illai) curry leaves after switching off the stove. That smell is devine and throwing some hot rice into that kasandhu along with those hardened curry leaves tastes heavenly.

Frankly if u use good butter, the process doesn't smell bad at all. Using uthukuzhi venai stinks, I used to leave home when me mum starts to make ghee.

Making ghee out of unsalted butter in western world tastes n smells lot better than buying ghee from Indian shops, not to mention its cheaper too.

Anonymous said...

what's with Suswaad calling it

Paal -- theruthi --paal

Just like Ma--Villukku--Ma

Amul hatred konjum too much

Vi said...

Ahh, ghee - nazhi! I love it, especially when it's mixed (liberally) into my parrupu / rasam sadham. :D

And my mother still makes her own ghee - yum. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey hawk -- Relating to an earlier post of yours, which I can't find now.

Were you aware of this whole funda behind Saroja Saaman Nikalo...

Check this out:

Vinod said...

standard process of 'urai kuthi'fying the milk every night (need English word for the process of putting small quantities of yesterday's curd into today's milk - CURDLING

Sowmya said... pannidu irukara time la ippadi oru post padicha..en diet lam mootai katti vechiduven pola irukke

paruppu + sadham + nei

kadalamavu + sugar +nei = mysore pagu

payathamavu + powdersugar + nei = payatha urundai

ufff...lost my patience ! etho onnu panni sapdanum ippo

Hawkeye said...


true. to get good butter you need to maintain a huge process.


i fell down laughing upon reading your comment. this is just awesome :-). kudos to your patti for making you work. i dunno what you did to her for her to exact revenge like that.


kasadhu is something i forgot. i will include it it in the original post.


:-). i got into the ghee mood.


try it without the rice; its more awesome :-)

I, elle n chikkki

thats the thing. i wanted to write it - i forgot


a lot of people i know probably prefix my name with 'ghee'


u r right. my mom just mentioned that. that onli uthukuli vennai stinks. i will incl this in the main post. the first part about karuvai pillai was just awesome.

Hawkeye said...

jillu madrasi,

amul might be good in rest but dalda is bad.


same here :-)

jillu madrasi,

"sushma samaan nikalo" from mudhalvan is an old joke.


CURDLING = is this ur word or the real word.


finally, what did you make?

I said...

whatever u make Sowmya, can you pliss to put some in a plastic cover, seal it with a mezhuguvathi flame and send?

Anonymous said...

mlc -- others have written about Ghee too -- an entire chapter in a book!

Read this:


Anonymous said...

ah darn it, check this out:


Sowmya said...

kada kada...went to kitchen

mada mada...put some rice in the oven vessel..reheated it

mixed with paruppu and with manamanakkum Erode nei (something special compared to other ghee..!)

labak labak..oru vazhiya thondai vazhiya irangitha...

Aahh...haa..Pramatham, ithuku nihar ulagathula eethu..

P.S. Hawk eye ! Thank you for your post. It tempted me to have the ghee after some yrs :)


Try out the same way what i did..

Sapidarappo mattum sowmya swaagaa nu sollindey sapta sari :P

Mani RKM said...

I think I read this article at the worst possible time; while I am stuck in US and looonging for home food. ghee+ any sambar, ghee+salt+rice - all combinations are floating in my vision.hmmmmmmm.....

and you forgot the "Murungai leaves" which add flavour to the ghee and for which there will be tough competition between one and his siblings at the end of the process.

VegeYum said...

Thanks for your memories - how great to have experienced it being made the very traditional way. I am posting a recipe and will add your link to it. Thanks!

Laksh said...

Guess am reading this post a year late almost. Well! I made nei kasandu today and wondered if anyone wrote about it and landed here. Nice post! Brought back a ton of memories.