Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Posted by Bina
These rich, melt-in-your-mouth cookies are a delicious tea-time treat. Or for that matter, a perfect anytime treat. Commonly known as nankhatai (pronounced naan-kha-taai) biscuits, one would usually buy them in in bakeries just like this one or from kharibiscuitwallahs - guys going door to door carrying huge tin trunks on their heads, selling nankhatais, rusks and khari biscuits. The trunk would open to reveal all the wonderful goodies neatly arranged in different compartments - square, oval and round shaped biscuits topped with almonds or cashews or pistachios or tutti-frutti, begging to be picked up!
Sometimes, when there was a surplus of ghee at home, we would send the ingredients to the local bakery to be baked into nankhatais. Much later, we got our first home oven - a contraption that sat on the floor and looked like a mini spaceship with a glass window on top! The nankhatais made at home were so good that we never went back to store bought ones again.
Nankhatais are easy and quick to make. All you need is flour, powdered sugar, ghee, baking powder and some cardamom. That's it. No fancy equipment for mixing either. Just toss everything into a bowl, mix with your fingers, roll into balls, flatten and bake. Super easy. A quick note about making ghee. It is almost like making browned butter or beurre noisette. Simply melt some unsalted butter in a pan, first on med-high and then on med-low flame until you see the solids settle to the bottom and turn golden brown. I don't bother with straining either. Just pour the liquid into another container and stop pouring when you see the solids coming to the rim of the pan. The liquid solidifies when it cools completely to room temperature.
Makes 24 cookies
200 gms all-purpose flour (approx. 1 3/4 cups)
140 gms powdered sugar (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
110 gms ghee (solid) (approx. 3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp baking powder
cardamom – 8 (only the seeds –powdered)
Cashews/pistachios/almonds for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Put flour, sugar, cardamom and baking powder in a bowl and mix well.
Add the ghee and mix until it forms a smooth ball of dough (You may need to add an additional 1-2 tbsp of ghee if the dough looks too crumbly).
Roll dough into balls and using your palms, slightly flatten each into a disc and arrange on cookie sheet.
Press a piece of cashew, pistachio or almond on top.
Bake at 300 degrees F for 15 mins (until bottom of cookie turns golden brown).
Let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.
* You can also make a saffron version by dissolving 1/4 tsp of saffron in a tsp of milk and adding it to the flour mixture along with the ghee and a few drops of yellow food coloring.
This post was written by Bina