“Khalo beta, seehat ke liya aacha hai,” our dadis and nanis would say as they added dollops of white butter to our food plates. Churned by hand and touted as being healthy, our grandmothers have always said that white butter, or maakhan as we know it in India, has many health benefits. While we may have disregarded it as nani ke nuske, science has caught up to what our elders know to be true.
Different from the yellow butter that is more commonplace, white butter has been made and relished in India for centuries. This stark white butter is soft and pillowy and unlike the butter bricks we find in our supermarkets that has large amounts of “salt, trans fats and artificial colour additives. Yellow butter also contains animal fats or vegetables oils which are high in saturated fatty acids,” explains Madhavi Savani, dietician, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad.
Made by churning curd, white butter is usually unsalted and has no preservatives or added colours. It has a short shelf life so it has to be prepared fresh, regularly. Chiming in, dietician Nahid Khilji shares “Makhan may help in improving your gut health by reducing inflammation. It is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and research has shown that it can benefit people with high cholesterol levels, certain types of cancer along with a good balanced diet.”
Adding, Khilji says, “Makhan contains vitamin A which is essential for eye health, skin health and immunity. It helps in reducing overall inflammation in the body. A study conducted in rural India showed low prevalence of heart disease in men who consumed high amounts makhan. All these benefits can be attained only when used in moderation and along with good diet and healthy lifestyle.”
White butter is also rich in calcium which is required for your bone health and has vitamin E which makes your skin supple and soft, explains Nilakhi Nath, lifestyle coach, GOQii.
Since white butter lesser calories than yellow buter, Dr Nishant Tanwar, HOD Dietetics and Nutrition, Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad says “If consumed in a moderate propositions, it can be eaten by people suffering from cardiac diseases as well.”
Similarly, white butter can aid in weight loss when consumed in moderation. The ideal amount of butter to consume in a day is one and a half to two tablespoon. Nath adds, “Weight loss is all about being in a calorie deficit. If you maintain a moderate portion, it is helpful.”
As a religious offering:
Maakhan is one of Lord Krishna’s favourite foods and on Janmashtami, Maakhan Mishri is offered as bhog to him and then served as prasad to everyone. It is made by adding sugar to white butter to sweeten it and is served in earthen pot.
White butter recipe
Milk – 2 liters
Water – 2 cups
Boil 2 liters of milk every day for one week and set aside the malai (clotted cream) after the milked has cooled down. Store the maalai in an airtight container and refrigerate it
After a week, remove the container from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for six hours
Combined the fresh maalai with ice cold water in a large bowl and use the hand blender to blend it for four to five minutes. The fat layer that is formed is collected and is the white butter.
Inputs from Chef Ilandhirai Vadivel, Executive Chef, Radisson Blu Mumbai international airport