This is one recipe that is very close to my heart and I often prepare it at home. I’ve tried many recipes of nankhatai, by far this is the best recipe I have found and thought of sharing with my readers. The purely Indian version of cookie or shortbread biscuit should be tried by all who have not yet tried them. One bite of nankhatai, and it brings out the divine Indian flavours, be it clarified butter/ghee or the aroma of cardamom, its just perfect!
Sources say that Nankhatai came into existence in the 16th century in Surat which was occupied as the port city. During that period the spice trade was dominated by the Indians and Dutch, the Dutch reigned India with their Dutch East India Company for quite sometime. In Surat, there was this random Dutch couple who started a bakery business here in India to meet the requirements of the local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, the owner gave away the bakery business to a local Iranian/Parsi. The bakery biscuits which were sold by him were disliked by the Indians. To prevent his business from closing down, he started selling dried bread which became very popular. Further experimentation with the dried bread eventually gave birth to Nankhatai.
Today Nankhatai is widely popular in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The word nankhatai are two separate words where nan means bread in Persian language and khatai means biscuit in Afghani. In many places, nankhatai is also known as kulcha-e-khataye where kulcha means bread which is similar to nan.
Nankhatai is basically a combination of DUTCH BUTTER BISCUIT and local Gujarati sweet DAL, hence giving rise to Nankhatai. Traditonally, in the recipe clarified butter/ghee and powdered sugar are creamed together but now a days ghee is replaced by butter. If you want the authentic taste, using clarified butter/ghee is a must. If you think the quantity of ghee used is very much, you can halve the amount and use canola oil/vegetable to fulfill the amount needed. This is a Indian recipe so it has to be rich without a doubt. Baking powder is another ingredient which is added to nankhatai these days for an added delicate feel. I have used baking powder in the recipe and trust me, the results are amazing. I also add semolina for that extra crunch in the nankhatai. Prefer using cardamom powder rather than whole cardamom seeds to spread the flavour and aroma evenly. If you do not have powder, grind cardamom seeds into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar.
- All purpose flour/maida - ½ cup
- Semolina/sooji - ¼ cup
- Chickpea flour/besan - ¼ cup
- Powdered sugar - ½ cup
- Clarified Butter/ghee - ¼ cup
- Canola oil/vegetable oil - ¼ cup
- Cardamom powder/elaichi powder - ¼ tsp
- Baking powder - ½ tsp
- Cream together powdered sugar, clarified butter and oil using a wire whisk or electric blender until light and fluffy. Melt the clarified butter/ghee if it is in its solidified state.
- In a separate bowl, Sift in all the dry ingredients together, the flour, semolina, chickpea flour, cardamom powder and baking powder. (Sifting is not essential, you can do it if you wish).
- Gradually add the flour mixture in the wet mixture to make a dough. It should be bindable. If the dough is too dry, add few tbsps of milk. I did not need it, but if you get a dry dough, please consider adding few tbsp of milk.
- Line a baking tray with little oil or ghee brushed on it. Make small rounds out of the dough, flattern slightly using your palm and place on the greased baking tray. Place them apart as the the dough spreads as it bakes.
- Let it rest for 10-12 minutes. While the dough rests, preheat your oven to 200 degree celsius,
- After the dough has rested and oven has preheated, bake them for 15-16 mins at 180 degree celsius.
- Once done, cool them down completely. You can garnish or coat them with powdered sugar and cardamom powder mixture. I dont do this as like them plain.
- Store in airtight containers for 2 weeks.
2. The baking time will depend on your oven so keep checking. Sometimes my biscuits are done in 14 minutes. The second batch usually takes less time. Some ovens like Morphy Richards heat up very fast so be careful. You know your oven better. I have a 28 litre morphy richards OTG but I did not bake the cookies there. I prefer a convection microwave oven for this recipe and do it in my Godrej microwave in convection mode. Morphy Richards is good but I'm really scared to use that sometimes as many of my recipes have turned into a disaster. If using morphy richards, bake them at 160 degrees and keep an eye.
3. The recipe uses ingredients in 1:1 ratio, semolina+chickpea flour together contribute to the measurement, so use ¼th cup each and not ½ cup each. ¼th cup + ¼th cup will make ½ cup as a whole.
4. For a big batch, double the recipe.