Nankhatai | Narayan Katar | Indian Shortbread Cookies
Prep time: 10 mins | Resting time: 4 hours | Makes 16 medium sized nankhatais
- 150 grams (approx 1-1/3 cups) all purpose flour (maida) plus a tablespoon or two extra if required * see notes
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar, powdered to a fine texture after measuring * see notes
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) hot ghee (melted)
- 1/8th teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon soda bi carb (baking soda)
- a large pinch of saffron strands (optional)
- a few drops of food colour if desired
- a pinch of cardamom (optional)
- slivers of almonds or pistachios (optional)
1. Place the melted ghee in a bowl (if you are using saffron or any food colour add it to the ghee) and add the sugar powder a little by little till it is well mixed.
2. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together and sift it part by part into the ghee and sugar mixture. Use a spoon to mix well. If you feel that the dough is spreading too much (paste like) then it could be because the ghee was too hot and the sugar has melted in it leading to excess moisture. If you wish you can add an extra 1-2 tablespoons of flour until you are able to get a kneading consistency.
3. Lightly knead the dough till it is smooth, place it in clingfilm (plastic wrap) or cover the bowl with cling film. Keep aside for 4 hours for best results.
4. After 4 hours, the dough ball may have hardened a bit (if you live in cooler climates). Gently knead it for a couple of minutes until it is soft and pliable.
5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Line a large baking sheet/tray with parchment and keep it ready.
6. Divide the dough into 12-16 equal portions (I usually get 16 equal portions) and roll each portion into a ball and gently flatten the sides only – let the shape remain more like a mound (dome) than flattening them into patties/cutlets. The dome shape helps create cracks on the surface when the heat tries to escape each cookie during the process of cooking. This is how traditional cookies look like but if you want them flatter and without cracks you can flatten them.
7. Place each portion on the prepared tray and bake for 18-20 minutes or until just light golden in colour and the cracks appear. Do not overbake as they will brown fast.
8. Remove the tray out of the oven and let the nankhatais cool on the tray for 10-12 minutes. Then gently transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
1. I have tried this recipe thrice before posting it and the second time I made it was the best in terms of taste, however, in terms of appearance the cookies didn’t crack on top. I would say, refrain from using beyond 150 grams of maida if you like melt in the mouth kind of cookies. But if you like your cookies to have a bite (slightly hard base) then add the additional 2 tablespoons of maida (or a little sprinkling of it until you are able to form a proper dough)
2. Since I was specifically asked to use sugar powder (granulated sugar measured and then powdered in the dry jar of the mixie) I stuck to the same. I have seen many recipes asking for the use of powdered sugar which in US jargon refers to icing sugar (also called as confectioner’s sugar). Do note that icing sugar contains cornstarch (cornflour as we say in India) that acts as a stabilizer while the icing is applied to cakes etc. You could substitute the sugar powder with icing sugar to simplify things but I am not sure of the results.
3. If you don’t like very sweet nankhatais just reduce the sugar by 10 grams (use 90 grams sugar for 150 grams maida). Since you will not know how the dough will turn out until you mix the ingredients together I suggest you hold back around 10 grams of the sugar powder and add it only after you have mixed in the additional 2 tablespoons of maida (if required). This is just a minor act of balancing the sweetness.
4. Traditionally nankhatais have cracks on top and hollow inside however there are many variations to this and by all means you can make the ones that don’t crack up on top. No matter what they taste delicious!
5. When powdered, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar results in approx 3/4th cup of sugar powder.