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Nankhatai - Traditional, eggless Indian butter cookies




Nankhatai is a traditional cardamom flavored, eggless Indian shortbread cookie that is loved by both children and adults. This delicious treat is a very popular snack found in most Indian bakeries and goes perfectly with your cup of Masala Chai or Coffee. I am very excited to share my family's traditional Nankhatai recipe with you.


My recipe does not require eggs, baking powder or baking soda and does not require any special equipment or baking tools. Even if you are a beginner or have never baked before in your life, you can easily prepare this Nankhatai recipe.


Mein Rezept benötigt keine Eier, Backpulver oder Natron und erfordert keine spezielle Ausrüstung oder Backwerkzeuge. Auch wenn du ein Anfänger bist oder noch nie in deinem Leben gebacken hast, kannst du dieses Nankhatai Rezept leicht zubereiten.


What is Nankhatai?

The word "Nankhatai" is derived from the Persian word "Naan" which means "bread" and "Khatai" which means "cookie". These butter cookies are very popular in India.Nankhatai are made with all-purpose flour, sugar and Ghee ( (clarified butter) and have a flaky, tender, crumbly texture and literally melt in your mouth. You can also make your cookies with butter and season with cardamom or nutmeg for an alternative flavor.


Nankhatai is one of those classic, nostalgic family recipes that everyone loves. I still remember my mom and her friends making these melt-in-your-mouth cookies at home. It was always a great surprise when I came home from school.


Back then, ovens were a rarity in India, and all the neighborhood kids looked forward to the huge trays of warm, fresh Nankhatai prepared by my mom.


This recipe is perfect, works well every time and makes the perfect "khasta". Don't worry, the explanation is yet to come 😍.


In this recipe, we don't add milk or water. That's the secret behind the khasta texture. The less liquid in the cookies, the easier the liquid evaporates during baking, resulting in a crispier Nankhatai.


A little more history about Nankhatai

Nankhatai is believed to have originated in the 16th century in the city of Surat in Gujarat in western India, and was the result of intense trade between Dutch and Indians. With the influx of many Dutch immigrants to the port city of Surat, a Dutch couple sensed a business opportunity. They established a bakery to sell bread and other confectionery to the Indians.


After the Dutch left the country, the Dutch couple turned the bakery over to a local employee named Dotivala, who continued to bake bread for the locals in town. However, the bread was rather unpopular due to the use of toddy (grog) and eggs, as it simply did not appeal to the local palate. To make up for losses, the unsold dried bread was sold at lower prices. The poor often dipped it in tea before eating it. The baker saw an opportunity and began making sweet bread in the form of cookies, which were eventually called Nankhatai. The popularity of Nankhatai grew and it was exported to Mumbai, as the city was home to a large number of Gujaratis, and soon became an integral part of tea time.


Since then, these cookies have been enjoyed as a snack at tea time in many countries. In fact, in northern India, especially in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, you can also see street vendors baking fresh Nankhatais in makeshift ovens.


What makes a good Nanakhatai?

1. It should be crispy on the outside like a naan and then melt in your mouth tender and crumbly like a cookie.

2. hHve the perfect khasta texture.

3.Have an earthy, nutty and crumbly taste.

4.It should melt in your mouth.

5. It must have a rich and aromatic taste.


With its classic tender, crumbly texture and enticing taste in your mouth, it is one of those Indian cookies that is both nostalgic and flavorful.


What is Khasta?

Khasta is a Hindi word often associated with Nankhatai, which literally means light, flaky and crispy. The texture of this Nankhatai is crispy, crumbly, buttery, tender and flaky.


How to get this Khasta texture?

Keeping these two factors in mind, you are guaranteed to prepare the best Khasta Nankhatai:


1. Quantity: a good amount of fat (preferably Ghee) in the recipe, this makes it flaky and delicious. So don't change the quantities given in the recipe.


2. Consistency: Using room temperature Ghee) is the key here. Note the consistency in the ingredients picture below, neither runny nor melted, somewhat grainy in a semi-solid state. In the summer, if you find that the ghee is runny at room temperature, just put it in the fridge for a few minutes and it will firm up a bit.


Trick No. 17 of my grandmother Flora: Baking in a double pan

After preheating, first place an empty baking sheet and then on top of it, place the baking sheet with the shaped cookie dough on top.


By simply placing two baking sheets on top of each other, you avoid the direct contact of heat, hitting the bottom of the cookies. This way you slow down the browning of the cookies from the bottom.


Ingredients for Nankhatai

Nankhatai can be made from a handful of ingredients that are easy to find in your pantry and any Indian store:

  • Flour - Every Indian household uses a different amount to make these cookies. A combination of maida (all-purpose flour), besan (chickpea flour) and rava (soft wheat semolina) is ideal, as besan gives the earthy and nutty flavor and semolina is responsible for the graininess.

  • Fat - Here I used Ghee as the fat. Ghee is highly recommended. Replace Ghee with vegan butter or vegetable shortening for a vegan Nankhatai recipe.

  • Salt - Salt not only enhances flavors and balances richness and sweetness, but also improves texture.

  • Sugar - Powdered sugar or regular sugar ground in a mill at home.

  • Cardamom powder - A freshly ground cardamom powder makes all the difference.

  • Garnish - I used pistachio chips and rose petals. You can use crushed cashews, walnuts, almonds or pecans.


FAQs

Can I use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour?

Yes, you can. However, note that if you do, the cookies will not be quite as crumbly and tender.


Why do I need to chill the Nankhatai dough?

By chilling the dough, you are basically solidifying the fat, which in this case is ghee. So when the cold fat goes into the hot oven, it takes a little longer to melt. This will ensure that your Nankhatai don't flatten and keep their shape by not spreading too much during baking.


Can I make Nankhatai in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can. Preheat the Air Fryer to 200°C. Put the cookies in the Air Fryer basket in a single layer after preheating. Bake them at 200°C for 15 to 17 minutes.


How do you know when Nankhatai are baked?

The cookies will start to form characteristic cracks on top and have a slightly browned color on the bottom when you take them out of the oven. They should still be a little pale on top. If you want them to be a little extra crispy, bake them for another minute until the edges are golden brown as well. Remember that the cookies will firm up as they cool, so don't be tempted to bake them longer.


Can I make vegan Nankhatai?

Yes, of course!

You can use coconut oil or vegan butter instead of Ghee .


Variations

My Nankhatai recipe is not just for the holidays! Since it's a really simple and straightforward recipe, you can play around with it to create different variations any time of year.

  • Essences: Just use rose, saffron, and vanilla essence instead of cardamom powder for a different flavor.

  • Chocolate: Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder to make Chocolate Nankhatai.

  • Thandai: Add about ¼ cup of Thandai Masala to make Thandai Nankhatai.

Storage suggestions

Store the cookies in an airtight container only after they have cooled completely. If stored properly, these cookies will last for weeks, but honestly, I'm sure that won't happen because they are just that good and delicious 😉 .


Ingredients

  • 120 g Maida (all purpose flour)

  • 60 g Besan (chickpea flour)

  • 30 g Rava (semolina)

  • 80 g Sugar, powdered

  • 1 tsp Cardamom powder

  • ¼ tsp Salt

  • 115 g Ghee (clarified butter)

  • 1 tbsp. slivered Almonds and Pistachios

  • Dried rose petals for garnish (optional)

Instructions

In a mixing bowl, sift together Maida (all purpose flour), Besan (chickpea flour), Rava (semolina), powdered sugar, cardamom powder and salt.

Add ghee and knead into a dough. At first the dough will be very crumbly, but don't try to add extra liquid. Just keep mixing, the heat from your hands will melt the ghee, which will act as a binder.

The dough is ready when you can form a crack-free, smooth ball from some of it.

At this stage, you can either divide the dough approximately or use a scale to form 20 balls, each weighing 24 g, if you want to be more precise.


Make an indentation on the ball with your index finger and place it on a baking sheet lined with baking paper..

Put some slivered almonds or pistachios in the indentation and chill the tray in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C.


After 20 minutes, turn over a separate baking sheet and put it on the middle rack. And on this baking sheet, place the chilled tray with the cookies and bake in the preheated oven at 190°C for 10 to 12 minutes.

The cookies are done when they develop nice cracks in the center with a pale color on top and a light golden brown color on the bottom.

Once out of the oven and still warm, I like to add a few pistachio shavings and rose petals to create a color contrast, but this is completely optional.Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies will firm up as they cool.

Nankhatai goes great with a warm cup of Masala Chai.


Tips

  • Consistency: Melted Ghee can make your dough too runny and with too solid ghee, you end up kneading the dough much more than necessary. To avoid both, use room temperature semi-solid Ghee that is neither melted nor solid.

  • Adjustments: If you find that your dough is runny, put the mixing bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes, the Ghee will firm up a bit and you can then combine it into a dough.

  • Indentation: an indentation on the shaped Nankhatai dough ensures that the cookies have room to expand, develop cracks, and bake nicely from the center and hold their shape.

  • Cooling: Chilling the dough is advisable so that the cookies do not flatten when baked nicely, but it is not mandatory.




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