Nankhatai – Eggless Indian Cookies or Shortbread!

Nankhatai - Eggless Indian Cookies or Shortbread
Nankhatai – Eggless Indian Cookies or Shortbread

As a child, my brother and I waited eagerly for the old Chachaji who would sell his wonderful baked wares door-to-door. Chachaji would have this well-worn, shiny steel trunk on his head and in this trunk were treasures like Nankhatai, Rusk, Khari, and Kadak Pav. The Chachaji had carefully customized this trunk so that it had layered steel trays in it and each layer had its own set of treasures.

Chachaji would unfailingly ring our door bell (this is if Anand and I were not already out there waiting for him) and wait for Dad to come out and place the order.

My favourites were the variety of Khari biscuits (plain, with jeera, or with sugar) and Nankhatai (plain, with jam, multi-coloured, with a dusting of crushed almonds and pistachios).

If I  close my eyes, I can still visualise the fishing out his scales and carefully weighing out his wonderful baked goodies. Indeed, I can imagine the wonderful aromas wafting about!

The other day, I was waiting for my music class to start and in the bakery nearby, I saw many women pitching in to make Nankhatai. Overwhelmed with nostalgia, I made a batch this past weekend and what a treat they turned out to be.

Makes: 15 to 18

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

Baking Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Refined Flour or Maida – 1 Cup
  2. Gram Flour or Besan – 1/4 Cup
  3. Semolina or Rava – 1/4 Cup
  4. Sugar – 1 Cup
  5. Ghee or Butter – 1 Cup
  6. Cold Milk – 2 or 3 tbsp (if required)
  7. Green Cardamom or Elaichi – 4
  8. Baking Soda – 1/4 tsp (optional)
  9. Almonds – 2
  10. Cashews – 2
  11. Pistas – 2

Preparation

  1. Grease a 12″ baking tray with some ghee.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Method

  1. Sieve together the maida, rava, besan, and baking soda.
  2. Roughly crush the almonds, cashews and pistas so that they break into small pieces.
  3. Peel the cardamom.
  4. Grind the cardamom seeds and sugar together into a fine powder.
  5. Over low-heat, melt the ghee or butter.
  6. Take off the heat and let ghee/butter cool to room temperature.
  7. Add the powdered sugar and cream well.
  8. Add the dry ingredients and knead into a smooth ball.
  9. If the dough is powdery, add some milk (1 tsp at a time).
  10. Divide the dough into 15 to 18 equal small lemon sized balls.
  11. Press each ball slightly flat and press some dry fruits pieces into the centre.
  12. Place the nankhatai on the greased tray.
  13. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 180°C.
  14. Let the Nankhatai cool to room temperature
  15. Store in an air-tight container
  16. Enjoy with a cup of hot Adrakwali Chai/Ginger Tea.

Tips

  • Do not overheat the ghee or butter. Heat it just enough to melt it.
  • I found that if you knead the dough well-enough, you don’t need any additional milk. Remember that the sugar has moisture as well.
  • I use a standard 1 tsp measure to scoop out the dough and form dome-shaped Nankhatai.
  • The Nankhatai bake really fast. Be careful that they do not burn.
  • Do not try to check if the Nankhatai are baked by testing their firmness. They tend to remain soft while baking and harden on cooling.
Nankhatai - Eggless Cookies or Shortbread
Nankhatai – Eggless Cookies or Shortbread