Nankhatai (Indian Shortbread Cookies) step-by-step recipe with photos.
About this recipe
Nankhatai is Indian shortbread cookies flavoured with cardamom. These delicious eggless cookies are made with maida (plain flour) and besan (gram flour/chickpea flour). I guess every kid in India has grown up eating these light, delicious cookies that are available in most bakeries and sweet shops. Nankhatai is a very popular tea-time snack and is loved by everyone in the family.
The secret to get perfectly crumbly, yet melt-in-mouth cookies is using ghee to make them. Ghee gives them the 'khasta' texture and also makes the taste unique when compared to regular butter cookies.
Read on for the authentic recipe along with all tips, tricks, and FAQs to make perfect nan khatai at home.
The history behind these cookies is rather interesting. Nankhatai is believed to have originated in Surat in the 16th century, the time when Dutch and Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When they left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian.
The bakery biscuits were disliked by the locals. To save his business he started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. With time, his experimentation with bread ultimately gave birth to Nankhatai. Source: wiki
Flour: Plain flour (maida), gram flour (besan/chickpea flour), semolina (suji/fine).
Ghee: I use homemade ghee to make these delicious cookies.
Sugar: Grind the sugar in a mixie and use powdered sugar to make the dough. It is best to sieve the sugar to make sure it is fine.
Yogurt: We use a small amount of yogurt in the dough.
Nuts: Chopped almonds and pistachios to top the cookies.
Step by step instructions
In a large bowl, combine maida, suji, besan, salt, cardamom powder, and baking powder. Set it aside (steps 1,2).
In another bowl, sieve the sugar. To this, add ghee to it and whisk it until it is creamy and soft (steps 3,4).
Next, add yogurt and whisk again (steps 5,6).
Now add the flour mixture. Crumble the mixture well (steps 7,8,9).
Knead into a soft dough (step 10).
Pinch a small amount of dough and make a round shape. Place them on the baking tray (steps 11,12).
Gently press your thumb in the center to create a dent. Press some pistachio pieces into each cookie (steps 13,14).
Repeat with the rest of the dough (step 15).
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are lightly golden at 180 C/360 F. Let the cool on the baking tray (steps 16,17).
The flour to besan ratio I have used in this recipe gives the perfect taste and texture. If you do not have access to besan, replace it with atta or plain flour.
Do not skip the semolina (suji) as it adds a crunchy texture to these cookies.
Use powdered sugar to make these cookies.
Use ghee to make the authentic tasting nankhatai. If you do not have access to ghee, use softened butter.
Make sure the ghee is at room temperature. Melted ghee will make the dough runny and solid ghee will be difficult to incorporate.
Do not cut down on ghee as we need a good amount of fat to get the crispy and flaky texture.
Let the dough chill for 10-15 minutes so that they do not spread too much when baking. It is best to shape them and then chill.
It is important to let the nankhatai cool on the baking tray. If you handle them before cooling, they will crumble and fall apart.
Click here for more eggless cakes and cookies recipes.
Store these cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature. Make sure they are cooled completely before storing. They can stay fresh for up to one week.
The authentic nan khatai is not vegan as ghee or butter is used. However, you may use vegan butter to make the nan khatai but the taste and texture may slightly vary.
The best way to check if they are done is to see the bottom of the nan khatai. The bottom along with the edges should be light brown. At this stage, take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool completely. They will firm up as they cool.
They will fall apart if they are not allowed to cool completely. Cooling the cookies will firm them up.
These nan-khatai are:
- very easy to make
- crispy, flaky, yet melt-in-mouth
- perfect for celebrations
- great with a cup of masala chai
- Pre-heat oven at 180 C (360 F)
- In a large bowl, combine maida, suji, besan, salt, cardamom powder, and baking powder. Set aside
- In another bowl, sieve the sugar. Add ghee to it and whisk it until it is creamy and soft
- Add yogurt and whisk again
- Add the flour mixture. Crumble the mixture well
- Knead into a smooth dough
- Line a baking tray with baking paper
- Pinch a small amount of dough and make a round shape. Place them on the baking tray
- Gently press your thumb in the center to create a dent
- Press in some chopped almonds and pistachio into each cookie
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are slightly golden
- Cool on a wire rack and serve