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This is a basic ingredient in all good Indian cooking, and although I am writing from South Africa we have a large Indian community which has developed some of its own idiosyncrasies over the years. It is, in fact, clarified butter cooked longer than the rench do it, so it aquires a delicious nutty, toasted flavour. It is also fequently spiced variously by individual cooks. It keeps for ever in a cool dark space.


  • 1 lb (500 g) best butter
  • 3 green cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortar (optional)
  • 2 cloves (optional)


  • Melt and heat the butter (with or without the spices - I sometimes do both or one or none)in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • "Cook" until the residue at the bottom of the pan turns a mellow brown (sometimes you have to brush aside the foam to check this), but be careful not to burn the butter.
  • This all takes quite a while, so patience and a wary eye are in order.
  • Let it cool down and pour it through cheesecloth in a sieve into a glass bottle.
  • As I said, this keeps wellnigh for ever in a cool cupboard.
  • Use it as the basic frying medium for curried foods, and also fry it with mustard seeds or/and thinly sliced garlic or/and cumin seeds to pour over yoghurt "salads" ("raitas") as lavishly as you dare to.

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