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Dongaon Local: A happy hamlet makes for happy Ghee

A local looking after his cattle as they graze.

A flavoursome Indian meal across homes in India is rarely imaginable without this fragrant, flavoursome, and healthy ingredient – Ghee. The word ghee comes from Sanskrit: घृत (ghṛta) and is also known as Tuppakkam, Tup, and Thupa depending on what locals call it across states in India. The love for it though is universal.

Ghee has been a part of Indian cuisine, sacred rituals, and traditional Ayurveda for centuries, in a sense being Vedic in origins. Part of the Panchamruta offering, used in yagnas and homams it is truly considered divine. Traditionally made from cow milk, the Ghee conjures up mothers in traditional Indian homes preparing it with recipes handed down the generations with dollops of love and patience.

A bowl filled with liquid gold aka pure ghee.
A bowl of mouth-watering loni (white butter) before it is turned into pure ghee.

And home is where we are headed with this story. To a charming, quiet village by the side of the Godavari river in rural Maharastra called Dongaon. This is a village that straddles two districts and many generations. This is where your traceable, lovable Ghee (or Tup) comes from. Hyperlocal and made from handmade recipes.

Farmed with love. Slow but sure.

A small family of farmers has been living in Dongaon since the 18th century. They started with a few acres of farmland and today have expanded to much. The family turned to sugarcane and other crops, a journey long since across three generations and many memories.

To paint a picture, when you enter Dongaon overlooking the old British railway bridge, you will be welcomed by a thick blanket of babul trees, bird tweets, cattle enjoying the bovine life, idly grazing on the farms while the residents of the village go about tending to mother earth. The railway bridge was built over the Godavari to facilitate the spice trade between the British and Nizams.

You’ll notice the mighty Godavari flowing in all its glory while kids play cricket on green pastures. You might spot elders sharing stories and chanting prayers in white sadra and dhotis by the temple. In this world, where everyone knows everyone, you’ll find people halting their two-wheelers in the middle of the road to discuss the harvest season and the prices of crops. Every house in Dongaon, big or small, has a backyard and a front yard occupied by some farm animals; and of course, a dog or two to watch over the cattle while the family works on the farm.

A Dongaon farm and cattle. Circa 1940.
Sugarcane farm and cattle. Circa 1930s.

Away from the city bustle, residents of Dongaon are accustomed to a slower life. They believe in seasonality, worship the river Godavari, and care for the cattle like their own kin, and yes, they name them too. Their love for nature makes them farm, produce and craft with a whole lot of heart.

Meandering through a slower life - A farm owner taking a walk through his farm.
Meandering through a slower life.

All natural and all happy – the family of four

Dongaon Local is a grassroots initiative started by the sixth generation of farmers from Dongaon. They endeavour to bring small-batch, honest farm products directly to consumers who truly appreciate the local, the traceable, and the hand-crafted.

The Dongaon Local ghee or Tup is a deliciously nutty, creamy, and unadulterated wonder, mindfully sourced from their cattle. A family of four cows – Chandrika, Radha, Ekadashi, and Tambdi generously feed their calves, before the surplus milk is used to make small batches of the Sajuk Tup. The undisturbed natural environments, grasslands, and love from their caretakers go a long way.

The making of this home-made delight – a tradition preserved

What makes this their all-natural ghee more special is the traditional recipe where loni (freshly made white butter) is skillfully churned out of buttermilk.

Woman holding pure loni churned from buttermilk.�
Pure loni churned from buttermilk.
A local looking after his cattle as they graze.
A local looking after his cattle as they graze.

Dongaon’s residents grow up around their cattle and are accustomed to feeding, and caring for them like family. The family’s Chandrika enjoys her brief encounter with Aaji (Grandmother) every morning at sunrise when she comes to offer her prayers in a nauvari saree and bright yellow chandan tika. Aaji caresses Chandrika and briefly talks to her about the weather, and other moos – oops, news.

Aaji proudly gazes at her crops.
Aaji proudly gazes at her crops.

Aah, the aroma of home!

When do you know you are in the company of fresh ghee or tup? Well, when the characteristic aroma around the table fills the air.

Dongaon Local proudly presents this micro-batch of delicious homemade Ghee (Tup) that comes with much love – love from a charming village, generous cows, breezy farms, happy birds, and enterprising mothers.

A hand holding Dongaon Local Ghee with a farm in the backdrop. A jar of pure ghee and pure goodness.
A jar of pure ghee and pure goodness.

To pre-order your own homemade Sajuk Tup Ghee click here.

Rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and a natural emollient, ghee helps you with maintaining healthy skin by locking in moisture, lowering cholesterol, improving skin repair, treating cracks, and softening the skin. Ghee also doesn’t break into free radicals at high temperatures making it perfect for Indian cooking. All of this while being simply, homely, delicious.

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