There is absolutely nothing to beat the taste of freshly churned butter and clarified butter known as ghee that is made with this butter. We have known of churning butter from the days of Lord Krishna. There are stories, poems and songs galore about the naughty baby Krishna stealing the freshly churned butter not only from his mother Yashoda’s house but also from the other households in Gokulam. In the beautiful Todi composition Thaaye Yashoda (தாயே யசோதா), the composer Oothukadu Venkatakavi says வெண்ணை வெண்ணை தாரும் என்றான்! வெண்ணை தந்தால் தின்றுவிட்டு பெண்ணை தாரும் என்று கண்ணடிக்கிறான்…. (Oh Yashoda, your naughty Krishna comes to our homes and asks for butter and when we give it to him, he gobbles it up and starts teasing the girls in our home!) Even today, when I make butter at home, Vidyuth always asks whether Krishna will come to our house to steal the butter?
Many of us have started buying fresh cow’s milk directly from select suppliers, especially after hearing about the adulterations in the packaged milk available in the market. When you get fresh milk you get a creamy layer on the top that is easily removed after the boiled milk has been cooled in the fridge. I collect this rich cream over a period of a week, set it like yogurt (curd) and then churn it in the blender to get amazing butter. In my grandmother’s and even my mother time, they would use the மத்து or a wooden whisk to churn the butter. The ghee made with this butter is really aromatic, especially if you fry some முருங்க இலை (moringa leaves) at the time of removing the ghee from the stove. Anyone who has had the ghee fried moringa leaves even once, will be a fan for life. The ghee not only tastes better but is also supposed to have a longer shelf life if you fry these leaves in it (in North India people fry betel leaves in the ghee).
After straining the ghee, the sediment of milk solids at the bottom or the கசண்டு is another favourite of mine. My mother would mix some wheat flour and sugar with the கசண்டு and make a really tasty sweet with it too. In our family, all of us love the கசண்டு so much that we just have it plain or with hot rice. Every time I make butter and ghee at home, I can just close my eyes and visualise my mother busy in the kitchen making ghee from fresh butter and us kids eagerly waiting for the crispy, fried moringa leaves.