Ghee For Non-Desi Recipes: Indian Chefs Break Down The New Trend

Desi foodies are falling back in love with ghee; the good ol’ ghee has always been a functional medium for Indian cooking, be it saag, curries, dal, paratha, kadhi or any mithai. Along with a buttery taste, ghee has a distinct roasted, nutty aroma which adds a certain warmth to any recipe. However, if you’re reserving ghee for Indian recipes only, you’re missing out! 

Ghee's high smoke point makes it excellent for sautéing vegetables, frying meats, and making stir-fries. Using ghee for roasting vegetables, chicken, tofu or any kind of protein helps it acquire a beautifully caramelized exterior and since ghee withstands high temperatures, it adds a savoury depth to the grilled items.

Feroz Khan, the Head Chef at Mumbai’s CrayCraft makes Ghee Roast Paneer Thepla Tacos which uses the versatility of ghee to achieve the perfect texture.

“Roasting the thepla tacos in ghee adds a rich, buttery flavour that complements the spicy paneer filling. The ghee also helps in achieving a crisp and golden exterior, making the tacos more enjoyable with a delightful contrast between the crunchy shell and the soft paneer inside. Also in ghee roast paneer, ghee is used to give richness and nutty flavour to the dish,” shares the chef.

Ranjini Sengupta, a Hyderabad-based home chef finds ghee to be an ideal medium for minimal recipes. “I think instead of trying to blending in the ghee, we should make it stand out. It has an amazing warmth which completely takes over your tastebuds. I think we can use it for simpler recipes where we want natural flavours to shine. Fry some salt-seasoned scallops in ghee and finish it with some sage, or pair a steamed fish with some ghee-roasted peppers which can bring a terrific flavour to the dish,” says Sengupta.

The savoury superstar

Chef Feroz also makes delightful Delhi Chole Quesadillas for which he uses ghee to toast the quesadilla base. “Using ghee to make or toast the quesadillas imparts a unique, aromatic richness that enhances the overall taste. The ghee creates a perfectly browned and crispy exterior, which pairs beautifully with the soft and flavorful chole filling inside, adding a layer of depth to the dish that elevates it beyond a standard quesadilla,” he breaks down.

Chef Savio Fernandes from the continental kitchen of Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa uses a herb-infused ghee for his steaks. “Rosemary and thyme infused ghee give my steaks a unique buttery richness and bring with it a flavourful crust for the nostalgic Indian flavour sans the masalas. Today guests are very conscious of what they eat, while not missing out on homegrown tastes. This combination of searing the steak in herb-infused ghee retains both,” he explains.

Sengupta believes ghee’s untapped potential in global cuisine is a blessing for experimental chefs. “Ghee has a sophisticated palate but has a strong aroma which is great for experimental dishes. It can be something distinct without taking away from the essence of the dish. I tried poaching a chicken with ghee, white wine and some herbs and it turned out wonderful! I think we can do so much with this kind of ingredient,” she points out.

Ghee for desserts

Chef Tushar Malkhani at The Yellow House, Anjuna IHCL SeleQtions made Ghee Chocolate Truffles for a destination wedding in Goa. The bride and the groom's families were originally from Gujrat but settled in France last 2 generations but wanted to come down to India for their wedding rituals. 

"While keeping the essence of Indian-ness, however realising that Indian sweets would be very heavy on the palate for their European guests, I experimented on Chocolate Truffles but gave it essentially a ghee nostalgia twist. I went one step further to give it a local Goan flavour by adding grated coconut to it. This coconut gave the much-needed strength and character to the ghee,” Malkhani explains.

House of Nomad’s menu features something called a ‘Cha,’ an innovative cocktail which pays homage to India’s rich flavours with a blend of ghee-washed dark rum infused with cinnamon, Darjeeling tea concoction, palm jaggery, and homemade Nagpur orange bitters. This cocktail offers a harmonious balance of traditional ingredients and it’s garnished with an almond biscotti to derive the essence of chai biscuit.