Gi (ghee) is a type of refined butter which is mostly used in India, but is native to all the Earth, while it is becoming increasingly known and popular also in Slovenia due to the sound therapist, ecologist, researcher, founder and director of the Institute for Healthy Living, Dušan M.Z. Badovinac from Belakrajina, currently living in Ljubljana.
This healthy culinary gold was once upon a time well known to Ljubljana’s townswomen, as it was the first delicacy that was sold out in the morning at the market place, while the rural areas used it for frostbite, joints, dry skin, chapped lips, to improve vision, digestion, strength and to prepare delicious dishes on holidays...
Dušanfirst came into contact with ghee at his friend’sGoranfrom Novo Mesto. He says that when he tried it,he felt something special, and curiosity drove him to the computer and into reading of English and Slovenian forums, recipes, Ayurveda ...Then an ideaoccured; when it was Christmas time, Dušan andGoran cookeda slightly larger amount of ghee,pouredit into jars andgave it to people who were coming to Dušan’s group exercise.The excitement was interesting and due to a few enthusiasts, thecreation process had to be repeated again. There came a lady who claimed that the smell, taste and colour of the butter were the same as her mother’s 50 years ago. She said: ‘Guys, if you continue to cook, I will buy for my neighbour and myself a whole litre and pay as much as you want.’ ‘More than five years have passed since then,’ Dušanrecalls the beginnings. And thus the circle of followers increasingly spread, until also the merchants showed interest.
Goran and I are good at hearts, and good deeds get rewarded,’ believes Dušan. Advertising was not necessary, we only gave ourselves away by donating jars, investing hours and energy, and the word went from mouth to mouth. In order to sell ghee officially on markets and shelves,they needed a dairy plant and spent more than two years renting a small one. In March this year it has found its home right on Dušan’s – Badovinac’s farm in Jugor pod Gorjanci in BelaKrajina. Dušan, who grew up on a farm in close contact with nature, with animals and hard work, knows all the farm work in vineyards, orchards, forests, barnsand thus almost all the same criteria are satisfied as in larger Slovenian dairies, the only difference being in quadrature. Their main vision is to make the business continually grow, so as to become so big that they could make and maintainan asylum for disused cows. ‘We would buy a cow which was intended for slaughter and pay the money that the farmer receives for old meat from the slaughterhouse. If a cow is free and has food, and can be saved, it can start producing milk again and in the asylum it could diea natural death. The guiding principle that we follow is nonviolence, andevery human being should respect it.’
Distillate milk from grazing cows?
In order to make Ghee such as it should be, everything starts with milk, as ghee is a distillate of it. ‘If ghee is made from the right materials, it containsthe essence nature,’ explains Dušan. ‘The cow is not a holy animal in vain. This is an animal which, if it lives in nature, has flowers and grass that grow from the soil full of minerals, ores... It therefore eats live food, which grows from all these elements. It has water and if it is lucky from a spring, which makes it living water. It is constantly on air and wind, in the sun, free and in motion. After grazing, it lies down and sinks into a half meditative state and pulls the food back up, begins to mix it with saliva, which is liquid gold, and chews everything again, filling it with this saliva before dropping it down. What follows is multi-phase digestion andmilk is thus made.’
A prerequisite for quality ghee are therefore cows which throughout the hot part of the year freely graze outdoors. In Slovenia such cows were found in the highland areas, whereas now the raw materials are mostly obtained in the Croatianhilly setting. ‘At the Institute of Food Hygiene at the Veterinary faculty in Ljubljana an analysis of ingredients is made every year and there arealwaysfour butyric acids present, forming good cholesterol. The good cholesterol is the building block of brain cells and consequently Ayurveda recommends ghee for all infants and children, adolescents and growing people. It is also the building block of joints, skin, brain and all soft tissue. The good cholesterol is known for being an exceptional stabilizer of the functioning of endocrine glands, which are our 'software'. If the endocrinal function is not balanced, the same happens aswith computers; some or more programsare disrupting the operation of the entire unit or the computer. People fell into error when they shifted to industrial food and gave up saturated fats and fats with good cholesterol, all of which is obtained from simple peasant food.’
At least 48 hours on the fire
The preparation of ghee is seemingly simple,however, to make really high quality ghee, more elements are necessary. Dušan told us a few secrets: ‘Our recipe is to leave the butter on the fire for at least 48 hours, sometimes even 60, which is why everyone loves it. Fire is a representative of yang energy and the longer we cook food on it, the more filled it is with it,warms us more and is better for digestion. Ghee is all about combining the sun with the sun. I have realized that the element yang is so strong that it not only purifies the butter, but also allows it to mature on the flame if the tempo of long cooking is correct. When food is cooked slowly, it goes also through other forms of transformation,gainsthe colour, taste and aroma. According to Ayurveda, ghee is known for strengthening the digestive fire. The small intestine should pump it into a vein and the real ghee is the one that the blood carries throughout the entire body. The falling off through stool or urine must be close to zero.’
And how do we know when it is done? ‘When you shine a light into the pot, you have to see to the bottom, as if it were purest water, it must be transparent. That is when it is cooked. You can also hold a glass over it for two or three minutes, and if the glass does not become steamy, it is done. There must not be any moisture.
One of the best practices for enjoying gheein Dušan’s opinion is the Tibetan: teaspoon or two of ghee are added to herbal tea and mixed until dissolved as then herbs bind to butter. ‘Herbal or green tea isin addition usually served with butter cookies, so that what is in the tea binds, otherwise are the ingredients of flowers excreted through the urine. Tibetans have yak cooked butter. Every morning they drink tea with ghee, which they enjoy also during the day. Tea with ghee, together with herbs, is pushed through the veinsif you drink it and you literally feel that something is strengthening and lubricating you. This is the best lubricant for joints, suitable for internal and external use.’
Ghee is a natural preservative that has been found also in the pyramid alongside the honey. It can be consumed together with honey, thus being extremely energizing. Ayurveda states that the older it is, the more healing it is and after 50 years it should, in extremely small doses, eliminate most of the adverse conditions of the body and mind. ‘In IndiaAyurvedic doctors have glasses of200 or more years old ghee which cost a few hundred euros. In Slovenia it cannot be found for now,’ says Dušan, who also started aging it. In Indian clinics ghee is used to treat cancer. A customer at the market confided in me that she spent 21 days in an Ayurvedic clinic in the East where they would pour liquid ghee into all her body openings, and she thus cured cancer.
Ghee with sesame, wild garlic, truffles
Various dishes can be prepared with ghee. Wiener schnitzel, which is also an original recipe,did not exist in the past, or a donut, without purified butter. It can be enriched by adding herbs and spices. At the Institute for Healthy Living, together with Goran, they have developed recipes for several types of ghee; with sesame, wild garlic and truffles. ‘A grain of sesame has 50% more proteins than meat and is an energy bomb. The so-called SeGhee (Segi) is easy to digest and starts being effective within one class period. Its taste offers great enjoyment, this is the right food for all who practice fitness or are thinkers. Also added arefurther six Demeter dried herbs, Himalayan salt and fleur de sel de Piran. Sesame is bio-organic, hand-roasted in each pan separately, with a smaller and larger grinder. Everything is hand made.
The main ingredient of CheGheeis wild garlic or bear's garlic. When bears wake up they graze on it as it has the exceptional characteristic of cleaning the organism. It cleanses the body and is good for digestion. It contains additional alkaloids that garlic does not have. It is even more pure, as it is grown only in certain areas of the forest. We managed to get it into ghee so that, when stored in a refrigerator between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius,it has the shelf life of one year, although it is chopped and added to ghee the same day as it is picked. Add also the dark roasted mustard seed, Himalayan salt and fleur de selde Piran, and gourmet Cheghee is created.’
Tartugi is ghee with truffles. In addition to Croatian, Istrian black truffles,the salt isalso added, while turmeric and red pepper, which normallycomes from Bosnia and Serbia, are added to enhance the colour and for greater therapeutic efficacy. The truffle is known as a natural aphrodisiac. Moreover, each mushroom gives something that grows in the soil.
Currently they are doing test series of Trieste ghee with natural garlic, parsley and salt. Dušan predicts that this one will also be very healthy and,of course, delicious. ‘This will be a spread that goes with each sandwich, into each pasta, etc. You can heat it up andpour it, or spread it on bread straight from the refrigerator.’
The plan is to develop also sweet ghee, for which he argues that it will not be only extremely tasty, but also 'ultra-healing'. He entrusted us with some possible ingredients: carob, hazelnut, cocoa, honey, and cinnamon, a bit of ginger, a bit of cardamom, a bit of orange ... ‘Our guidelineis that each product should be good and healthy.’ Their Ghee is pure, extremely useful, designed to treat, tasty, hand-made, almost entirely regional, and it looks good. ‘This makes us unique,’ he says. The specialty of the products is the added value as each pot of ghee is surrounded by music during cooking in the end treated either with a gong, shell, whistles, flute, Himalayan pot... ‘Thus a seal is made, like a tribute. The sound leaves its vibration, meaning that the product is informed. Every glass and all the jars that we purchase we carry in our hearts. If you have a good heart, this wave reaches up to 20 meters, affecting everyone. Then we tune the glass again. All packaging is made of ecological paper, biodegradable and eco-paints, each cow has as a special hanging bell with a logo which has an inscribed water crystal of love and gratitude that is hand-drawn down to the smallest details. This crystal originates fromthe prayer of a Tibetan lama and Dušan found it in the collection of information crystals in the book The Message of Water by Japanese Masaru Emota.
Golden ghee is now sold at more than 100 locations across Slovenia, in specialty stores such as Kalček, Jablana, Sanolabor, Zrno do zrna, Vita Care...And they can also directly be found at fairs and Ljubljana's central market. "Ghee is not bought only by those who care for health, but also by many who actually enjoy food and are gourmets, since it is known as culinary gold,’ notes Dušan and adds: ‘The whole story with ghee started solely to make one feel better, and not only man, but also the flora, fauna and soil. Earth is our home, thefirst mother. Thereforewe operate as the Institute for Healthy Living, so that people would feel that the purchase is not only for their own good, but for the overall good.’