Nankhatai – Indian Shortbread Cookies

Nankhatai is a type of shortbread cookie – popular during Indian festivals or just as a tea snack! Its usually made with ghee (clarified butter) and all-purpose flour – some add gram flour and semolina to it as well. It’s flavoured with cardamom and usually topped with nuts.

I tried reading more about the origin of this. The name can be broken into two – Persian word ‘naan’ meaning bread and ‘khatai’ from an Afghan word meaning Biscuit. Surprisingly, its origin is in Surat, Gujarat in the 16th century – a Dutch couple before leaving India handed over their bakery to an Iranian. He experimented on the bread and came up with a dried version and called it nankhatai, which became very popular. (Source 1, Source 2).


Since it was my first attempt, I kept it simple – only all-purpose flour and no nuts.

Ingredients –

All-purpose flour – 1 1/2 cups
Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup
Ghee (clarified butter) – 1/2 cup – softened at room temperature
Powdered cardamom – 1/2 tsp
Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
Milk – 2-3 tbsp
slivers of pistachio or almonds for topping (optional)

Procedure –

1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
2. In a bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Mix cardamom powder and keep aside.
3. In a separate bowl, cream the ghee and sugar till mixed well.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix well. If the dough looks too dry, add 2-3 tbsp milk to bring it together.
5. Make lemon size balls, press pista/almond on top and place them on the baking tray lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake at 180 deg C for about 22-24 minutes till the edges turn slightly brown.
7. They may be very soft when taken out of the oven, do not try to remove at this time, for sure it would crumble. Let it cool for 15 minutes and then transfer to an air-tight container. They keep well for almost 2 months!



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