Nankhatai is India’s contribution to the Cookie family around the world.The word comes from 2 other food related Afghan words which are :
Nan – meaning a kind of bread
Khatai – meaning biscuit/cookie
The basic Nankhatai…
So Nankhatai means a kind of biscuit or cookie which is shaped like the Nan bread – Puffed up,white and round and yes which melts in the mouth!Plus it does not contain eggs and so the non users can rejoice!
India has been ruled by dynasties coming from Afghanistan and finally the British Rule which left an indelible mark on the ways and practices of the people.A lot of people till date (including me) love to have a simple tea of Chai-biskoot (tea and biscuits/cookies)which is actually very satisfying!
Historically Nankhatai was made in India and Pakistan even before the advent of formal ovens.The biscuits were shaped and placed on steel or aluminium plates or “Thalis” and put into a coal pit or a crude clay depression which took the place of the modern ovenThey were then eaten with tea and with much gossip and talks which were then a part of the tea times in the post partition days.
Coming to the recipe of Nankhatai it has Indian Ghee or Clarified Butter used in the place of normal white salted/unsalted butter.This gives an added softness to the biscuits and makes them soft enough to have a “melt in the mouth” texture!Let us check out the recipe and note the instructions:
- Use Ghee(clarified butter) for best results
- Observe the baking very carefully and remove the Nankhatai from the oven as soon as they develop cracks on the top.They would be very tender while hot but will firm up with a beautifully soft yet crunchy texture on cooling to room temperature.If they are left to over bake they become extremely hard and would not taste as good!
- Keep each Nankhatai evenly spaced from each other on the baking sheet.They will swell up while baking and we do not want them to stick to each other.
- Any kinds of flavourings can be added to the dough.I have used Cardamom and Almonds but you can use essences like Vanilla,Kewra or Rose,any kind of light colours or varied kinds of chopped nuts and dry fruits.
- Baking Powder is not used in the recipe.The raising agent is Baking Soda so please bake the biscuits instantly as you make the dough else you will not get desired results!
Preparation Time : 10 minutes
Baking Time : 7 – 8 minutes
Makes : 18 – 20 pieces
1 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour/Plain Flour(Maida)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup ghee
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp Almonds – chopped into silvers (optional)
1/2 tsp Cardamom powder(elaichi)
1/2 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 190°C or 350°F.
Prepare a cookie pan by laying a sheet of parchment paper over it.Or you could grease it with ghee.
Take the ghee and sugar in a bowl and beat with a hand blender till smooth and creamy.
Sieve the flour and baking soda in another bowl and add to the creamed mixture.Add the Cardamom Powder and chopped nuts.The mixture should be very smooth but not wet or sticky.
Divide the dough into 18 – 20 portions and keep them on the baking pan evenly spaced as they would increase in size.
Bake them for 7 -8 minutes till cracks develop on their upper surface.Be very careful and watch the biscuits as they would be very hard if left over baked.
Take out on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.Store in airtight containers and enjoy your tea times!
The look of a Nankhatai(see the cracks on top)
For great tea times!!!