As the centuries-old Carvaka saying goes, "As long as you live, live happily; Beg, borrow, or steal, but relish ghee." There's a reason why this spread is so highly regarded. Actually, there are multiple.
Ghee, aka clarified butter, is revered the world over for its smooth, buttery taste and high smoke point. Unlike butter, ghee is shelf-stable and void of dairy solids, making it a suitable alternative for the lactose- or casein-intolerant. It's loaded with vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as conjugated linoleic acid, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce body fat, improve the immune system, and prevent certain types of cancer.
While making ghee at home isn't impossible, it can be time-consuming and costly. That's why ghee is relatively harder to find in America than its very popular cousin, butter.
Lucky for us, Raquel Tavares Gunsagar has not only perfected Indian-style, grass-fed ghee for the rest of us with Tava Life Provisions, but also put a unique spin on it: flavor. By mixing in seasonings like vanilla bean, green chile, and Himalayan salt, Tava takes ghee to whole new, mouthwatering levels.
"Before refrigeration, we always had ghee, and today it's used everywhere else in the world, except in this country," Gunsagar says. And it's unfortunate, too, because ghee does so much more than just add rich, nutty flavor to toast.
"It's a solution to so many problems," explains Gunsagar, who experienced ghee's benefits first hand when her mom was studying Ayurveda. In the Ayurvedic tradition, ghee is known to promote longevity, aid in digestion, improve memory, and strengthen the brain and nervous system.
Here are a few ways Tava's founder recommends using her beloved ghee inside and outside of the kitchen:
To make prana coffee:
"Drop one to two tablespoons of vanilla ghee or plain ghee into your morning coffee, along with milk," she says. "It can help fight hunger and rejuvenate your body with the healthy fat that it needs."
To sear meat:
According to Gunsagar, if you use ghee to sear a steak, "you'll barely need to season it."
To amp up the flavor factor:
Gunsagar recommends using ghee to scramble or fry eggs (it won't brown like butter!) or dolloping it over a bowl of hot soup or cereal. "It instantly makes [your dish] richer and more wholesome," she says.
To moisturize skin:
"Rub it on your skin just like you would sesame, coconut, or neem oil to moisturize your skin and balance your vata dosha," Gunsagar says. Since ghee instantly penetrates the skin, it's extremely effective in soothing dry, chapped, and itchy skin.
To make a healing "medicated" ghee:
"Ghee aids with digestion, so your body better absorbs [Ayurvedic herbs] and heightens their effects," Gunsagar explains. To make a healing herbal-ghee blend, cook ghee with Ayurvedic herbs, then strain and eat.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho