Light and crumbly, these melt-in-your-mouth, cardamom and rose-flavored Indian shortbread cookies, aka Nankhatai are truly a delectable treat!
According to WIKIPEDIA, these eggless cookies are derived from the Persian word "naan" meaning bread and "khatai", an Afgan word for biscuits. Their rich sweet buttery taste has made them supremely popular. Being eggless also contributes to their larger appeal. And so they make it to our festive tables in most Indian homes, especially during Diwali.
How To Make Nankhatai
Now to the recipe, nankhatai are typically made with 3 basic ingredients - all-purpose flour, ghee and sugar.
You simply whisk the butter/ghee with sugar and mix it in with the flour and semolina. This dough is refrigerated for a little bit to make it firm. It is then shaped into little balls and flattened slightly before baking.
Ghee is an important ingredient here as it imparts its unique nutty flavour and aroma. Having said that, you can use butter too. I ran out of ghee, so butter was used here. Unsalted is recommended but I really don't mind using the salted variety sometimes. We quite enjoy the sweet savoury taste in our bakes. Honestly, I think it is alright to deviate from authentic recipes to pander to your tastes and preferences.
They are lightly spiced with cardamom and sometimes saffron too. Nuts like pistachios or almonds are sprinkled on top. Dried rose petals are used in this recipe as I just love that flavour. A small portion of sooji/semolina is mixed in the flour to add texture. This also makes the nankhatai a bit crispy.
If you don't want to add sooji or semolina to the dough, simply add the same quantity of all-purpose flour or besan ( chickpea flour). It makes the cookies a bit richer and imparts a characteristic nuttiness to the taste. By the way, some almond meal would be wonderful here too.
- You can use butter or ghee to make nankhatai. Though unsalted butter is recommended, I do use salted one sometimes.
- Because of the high fat content here, the dough is refrigerated for 30 minutes or so. This ensures that the cookies don't spread out much.
- Please make sure you're using fine sugar. Just grind some regular granulated sugar in your coffee grinder to make it fine.
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- 150 gms Butter, slightly softened
- 100 gms Fine sugar
- 1 1/4 cup All purpose flour
- 1/3 cup Semolina/ sooji
- 1 tsp Dried rose petals, slightly crushed
- 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder
- 2 tsp Pistachio, roughly chopped plus extra for sprinkling on top
- Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl till light and fluffy.
- Stir in the all purpose flour, semolina/ sooji, cardamon powder, dried rose petals and chopped pistachio. Combine well and refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes for the dough to firm a bit.
- Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or silpat.
- Shape the chilled dough into small balls and flatten them slightly. Making cross wise cuts on each dough ball using a knife.
- Place them on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle some chopped pistachios on top and bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are light golden.
- Carefully transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. They will be soft but will firm up as they cool. Enjoy!