Churn (shake or other agitation) cream and the fat globules will coalese into what we call butter. If you simmer butter it will separate into water and fat. Remove the water and the the remaining substance is called clarified butter. Simmer the remaining butter even longer will give it additional flavor and nuttiness. That's ghee (gē - like 'glee' with no 'L'), a fat (with a high smoke point) widely used on the Indian subcontinent.
Frentel makes delicious French Normandy butter from cows in the northwest region of France. And from that they also produce an exquisite ghee which we think is a wonderful addition to the fine delicacies you can get at Howie's Market.
Recently we put together an Indian dinner featuring ghee throughout: Shani murgh (aka Royal Chicken), Khaat meti gobi (Sweet and Sour Cabbage) and homemade naan. Over the next few weeks we'll post all the recipes. Try any of them individually, or put them together into one meal. It's fun, not all that hard, and quite delicious.
We'll start with a recipe adapted from The Encyclopedia of Indian Cooking by Khalid Aziz.
Khat meeti gobi (Sweet and Sour Cabbage)
1/2 large cabbage or equivalent
2 oz. tamarind pulp soaked in 4 ounces boiling water for 30 minutes, strained, reserving the liquid.
or approximately 1 TB tamarind concentrate dissolved in 4 ounces water.
2 oz. ghee or cooking oil
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 TB white vinegar
2 tsp. salt
2 TB honey
Remove any iffy looking outer leaves of the cabbage then slice into small strips. You could use a large coleslaw grater but we find that sometimes it gets too mushy so we're fond of just using a good knife.
NOTE: Tamarind pods are fairly common in various ethnic markets (we even have seen the trees with fruit growing in Southern California!). Meanwhile, tamarind concentrate is easy and seems to last forever (at least for us). You might also find tamarind pulp in blocks.
Heat the ghee or cooking oil in a large pan then add the coriander, garam masala and black pepper. Stir to mix well then add the cabbage, mixing again so that the spices are evenly distributed. Add the tamarind liquid and vinegar and bring to a boil. Add the honey and salt, stirring to coat all the cabbage.
Cover and simmer gently for approximate 10 to 15 minutes, noting that this dish is best when the cabbage is not fully cooked. It should be be slightly crunchy. If you think it is too dry, add a little water, however this should not be a wet dish.
TIP: Garam masala is a spice blend frequently used in Indian cooking. If you don't have easy access to the pre-made blend a quick Google search will give you a wealth of options for making your own or making do with what you've got.
Stay tuned! Here's what our entire dinner looked like: