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Ghee cure

By Nickunj Malik - Sep 16,2015 - Last updated at Sep 16,2015

After landing in Amman five years ago, the first thing I noticed while grocery shopping was that all the supermarkets here sold Ghee. It was a complete surprise to me that Jordan was also a ghee-eating nation. All along I thought that consuming ghee, in large quantities, was entirely an Indian habit.

What is ghee you want to know? Ghee is a kind of pungent smelling clarified butter that originated in ancient India. Widely used in Indian cuisine, traditional medicine and religious rituals it is manufactured in everybody’s kitchen usually by their grandmothers or the oldest living female relative. Why so? Well, I never questioned conventional customs; simply assuming that this was the manner in which it was passed from one generation to the next.

If you ask me I think only an elderly woman could stand the strong aroma that was produced when butter was simmered from churned cream to make ghee. My own granny was an expert at it and she firmly believed that its benefits far outweighed the discomfort. According to her it was a remedy for all ailments, from constipation, ulcer, arthritis, stomach cramps, insect bite, headache, sunburn, heartburn and even hair loss. Believe me, that’s the truth.

“Ghee can cure, what mom and dad endure”, is the rough translation of a rustic proverb that is famous in Punjab, the state of India that I belong to. This was almost a divine maxim that my grandma lived by. There was nothing that could surpass the goodness of ghee and a couple of homemade bottles of the white coloured stuff accompanied her everywhere that she travelled. If she were not adding copious amounts of it to garnish her food, she would be applying it liberally on her thick lustrous hair. She would be reeking of the stuff and I had to hold my breath when she enveloped me in a bear hug.

She loved the smell of ghee and said it whetted her appetite before every meal. Me on the other hand could not bear the sharp stench wafting from it. This was the main reason that I was such a thin child, she concluded once, when I refused to eat the chapatti that she had drenched with ghee. She relented when I pinched my nostrils and pretended to throw up. I was a gone case, she declared reluctantly, and concentrated on feeding my brothers. They would readily pour the melted ghee that she had prepared, on top of the steaming bowl of curries, and the sight made her dizzy with delight. If we ran short of it by any chance, she would immediately skip to the kitchen and start making some more. She took a situation, where there was no ghee in the house, as a personal affront that had to be remedied promptly.

Despite my North Indian origins, I could never develop a liking for ghee. I tried to make it at home once when our daughter was small, as a desperate attempt at fattening her up, because she was so thin. But when I brought a spoonful of the ghee lathered baby-food to her mouth, she spit it out with great force.

“Baby no like, baby no like,” she stressed banging her rattle on the dining table.

“Try one spoon,” I cajoled.

“Try one spoon,” she parroted.

“Open your mouth,” I coaxed.

We looked at each other steadily.

“Baby no like,” she repeated.


“Mama also no like,” I agreed, giving up.

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