Delicious Indian shortbread cookies with touch of cardamom and nuts
After going back and forth the idea for few months I took a bold decision to change my blog platform and moved from Blogger to Word Press. The move was smooth as Laura my designer at pixelmedesigns helped me a lot. Still it requires some improvement. I am learning to use word press also. I am happy that I can add some personal touch to my blog now. I made this Nankhatai, Indian style shortbread cookies.
Coming to this recipe it is famous shortbread cookies available in Indian bakeries. My mom liked this one a lot; and she would always buy it for us when we made our trips to local bakeries. I still remember those images like a flash back of movies. I wanted to make these cookies for long time, but when I think about the amount of ghee /clarified butter that goes to make them, it scared the hell out of me. Finally last week I decide to try it.
As usual I was able to find zillion versions of Nankhatai recipe, some use all purpose flour, butter and sugar and some add semolina, all purpose flour, besan/chickpea flour, ghee and powdered sugar. I thought that second version to be closer to traditional as it has ghee, besan /chickpea flour and semolina. While searching for Nankhatai, I found this interesting article about its history. Some people think history is not important when it comes to food, but I love to learn the history of food. Did you know Nankhatai means a cake made of six ingredients? It originated in the city of Surat in Gujarat which was the main port of entry for Dutch during 16th century. They love to eat bread, so they created a bakery to make the bread. When they decide to leave, they gave the bakery to an employee. He started making bread, but in India nobody wants to eat bread, so he converted it into dry and crispy version which poor people liked to eat by dunking it in chai/Tea. He also converted Dutch short bread cookies to Nankhatai which similar to European short bread cookies. As both have no leaving agent, however in the modern day Nankhatai there is a pinch of baking powder.
If you ask me how this cookies tastes, I will tell you it has crispy crunch from semolina, nutty besan/chickpea and flour and aroma of ghee makes delicate, crumbly melt in mouth cookies. To make it special I added saffron, cardamom and nutmeg. It has freshness of homemade ghee. Normally crushed pistachios is topped with cookies, however I don’t have pistachio in my hand, so used some blanched almond. It is best tea or coffee time cookies. If you are interest in egg less butter cookies, then give it try.
With little cookie dough I made few Halloween special cookies that I will post later. I used regular granulated sugar powdered, rather than store bought powdered sugar as it contain cornstarch and will alter the structure of cookies. I have seen using butter in the recipe, but if you want traditional touch go for ghee that is more flavorful.
Nankahatai: Eggless Shortbread Cookies: Indian style
- 1 cup/140g all purpose flour/maida
- 3/4 cup/83g besan/chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup /47g fine semolina/rava/sooji pulse 2-3 times in blender
- 3/4 cup ghee softened but not melted (substitute with unsalted butter)
- 1 cup/200g granulated sugar or castor sugar, do not use confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder 3-4 pods of cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Sliced almonds pistachio or any nuts of your choice ( I used blanched almonds)
- In a blender pulse semolina/rava /sooji into fine powder and set aside.
- In the same blender add sugar, nutmeg and cardamom and pulse it into fine powder and set aside.
- Heat the milk in a microwave and add saffron and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream ghee and powdered sugar to this mix in the saffron in milk and cardamom powder. Set aside.
- In another bowl sift, flour, besan/chickpea flour, fine semolina and salt. Add the sifted flours to the ghee-sugar mix in parts stirring continuously till you get soft dough. The dough will be sticky and loose. Wrap up the dough in a cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Take out the refrigerated dough. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough and make it into a small ball. Line the balls on the cookie sheet with at least 2 " space between them. Lightly press some sliced almonds on top of each ball.
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes watching closely. The cookies should not change color. When you see that the bottoms begin to brown lightly, remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet itself for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack later and let cool completely.
- Store it in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks if it last.
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This is Swathi ( Ambujom Saraswathy) from Zesty South Indian Kitchen who loves to explore cuisines from all over the world. Whenever possible I try to to give an Indian touch to several of the world cuisine, and has weakness for freshly baked bread. All the recipes you see here are created by me and approved after taste-test by my family.