Nankhatai are eggless shortbread cookies, flavored with cardamoms. Sometimes even saffron is also added. It is very popular in India and you can find it in neatly packed in big stores or stocked up in a glass jar in a local bakery. I always preferred the local bakery because Nankhatai tastes best when fresh.
What is Nankhatai?
In India we refer to these cookies at Nankhatai biscuits and the local bakery would make it fresh, melting in mouth delicious. Growing up, I was a picky eater and there were only few varieties of biscuits or cookies, I liked. Nankhatai was one of those that I was always excited about!
Unlike American cookies, most Indian biscuits are prepared with ghee (clarified butter). It is not only a healthy fat but also gives that beautiful caramelized flavor to the cookies.
It makes a perfect tea time cookie.
These eggless cardamom shortbread cookies are:
- Flavored with cardamom and you can use saffron too ( I didn’t add saffron)
- Prepared with ghee
You open a jar of Nankhatai and the first thing you will smell is ghee followed by a whiff of cardamom! It’s hard to pass without grabbing a couple of these short bread cookies.
Ingredients needed for Nankhatai Biscuits:
Like many cookies, Nankhatai too has several versions and you can adjust as per your taste.
Ghee (You can use butter too but the authentic flavor will come from using ghee) - RECIPE LINK TO PREPARE GHEE
Powdered Sugar – It helps to incorporate better to the mixture as compared to using granulated sugar.
All purpose flour ( You can use wheat flour too however the texture and taste will be different)
Gram flour (besan) – This adds a lovely aroma to the cookies but you can avoid it and instead stick to just all purpose flour
Fine Semolina – Give a mind crunch to the cookies.
Cardamom powder ( You can add a little bit of saffron too. I used only cardamom)
Key point to remember while prepare Nankhatai Biscuits
Follow the similar concept as you would for any crumbly cookies.
Always whisk the ghee and sugar until it's incorporated and looks smooth
Make sure you sift the dry ingredients
DO NOT KNEAD. Just rub little ghee in your hand and take a little portion of the mixture in your hand and roll it into a ball.
If the mixture feels to too dry to bring together, then add a couple spoon of milk. But at any point do not knead.
Bake at 350 for 16 minutes. It will feel soft which is what you need for a good crumbly texture inside. If you bake it for longer, it will turn hard as the cookies cool down.
Nankhatai biscuit tastes best when fresh so I like to bake these in small batches. My recipe will make 17 small size cookies. Melting in mouth Nankhatai biscuits is a treat to kids and adults. A perfect tea time biscuit!
- Ghee - ½ cup
- Powdered sugar - 1 cup
- All purpose flour - 1 cup
- Gram flour - ½ cup
- Semolina - 2 tablepspoons
- Baking powder - 1 tablespoons
- ½ teaspon cardamom powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespon roughly chopped pistachio
- Preheat the oven to 350 F
- In a bowl whisk the ghee and sugar until it's combined, looks smooth and fluffy.
- To the bowl now sift all the dry ingredients (flour, semolina, salt, cardamoms and baking powder)
- Fold the mixture until it's looks crumbly. Then using your hand bring it togther without kneading.
- To shape the cookie, rub little ghee in your hand and take about 30 g amount of the mixture. Make a rough ball by squeezeing with your hand and then gently roll it to form a ball without any cracks. (WATCH THE VIDEO)
- Place the ball in a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or baking silmat
- Shape rest of the cookie balls and place them keeping 1 inch gap between each other. Using your finger make an indent in the center of the cookie to place little pistachios.
- Score an X gently at the center. This helps to release the air when it bakes instead of cracking the cookie from all around.
- Place little chopped pistacios in all the cookies.
- Bake in the middle rack for 16 minutes.
- When you take out after 16 minutes, it will feel soft, do not bake more. Leave it on the hot cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
- Then trasfer it to a cookie wire rack for it to cool completely before you store the Nankhatais.