Feb 26, 2013

Nan Khatai (Cardamom and Saffron flavoured Shortbread)

In the five odd snow showers we got this year so far, two of them have been winter storms, The latest one, Rocky, is still going strong as I type this post. Its been a total white out today and it might have been depressing for some. Not for us. We loved the landscape, the surreal white light outside. We spent the day taking pictures, going for a walk in the snow, sipping hot chai/coffee while discussing about the beauy around  and generally pepped up about it. V was super excited about the walk and we coudnt contain her giggles. So far so good. But there are a few cumbersome tasks associated with such heavy snow and one of them is to get it cleared out from around your car, driveway etc. We did not equip ourselves with shovels during the first storm Q last week and continued the same trend this week. Borrowing from our neighbours, T managed to get our car cleared from snow. But what was amazing was that the couple next door cleaned up the drive in front of our building, helped others shovel snow around their cars. They did it last week and they did it today. For all their kindness, the least I could do as a "Thank you" was to bake them some cookies. And I decided to go Indian on them. I baked a batch each of Nan Khatai and Benne Biscuits for them.
I had tried Nan Khatai more than a year ago and the bad quality of Besan not withstanding, it was a disaster. It got burned unevenly and somehow tasted like mud. I had always wanted to try it again and today provided me with the perfect opportunity. What better reason to make these, in a sweet-disliking (T and V) and calorie conscious (me) house like ours than as a gift.


Servings: 15-16 cookies
Prep Time: 40 minutes  Cook Time: 20 mins


1/2 cup Ghee 
1/2 cup Sugar (I used baker's sugar)
1/2 cup Besan + a little extra if required
1/4 cup Maida 
1/8 cup Fine Semolina
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
1 pinch of Saffron strands
1 tbsp Almond slices
Salt - 1/4 tsp


  1. Mix the besan, all purpose flour, semolina, salt and sieve.
  2. Cut Almonds lengthwise using a pair of scissors to get the slices or use readymade.
  3. Gently crush the saffron strands (I used a stone) to release its flavour.
  4. Whisk together Ghee and sugar till creamy (around 5-6 mins by hand).
  5. To the ghee, sugar mixture add the cardamom and saffron. 
  6. Fold in the sieved flour mix a little at a time till the dough starts to come together. At this point if the dough is too soggy consider adding a little besan. But be careful not to overdo it. 
  7. Keep the dough in a covered container and refrigerate for around 15-20 mins.
  8. Work with the cooled dough to make small balls. Flatten them lightly and place on a cookie sheet. I line the sheet with parchment to make it easy for cleanup. Ensure you place the cookies atleast 1.5 inches away from another giving them ample space to spread out without sticking to one another. 
  9. Once you have all the cookies on the sheet, refrigerate till the oven is preheated at 300°F. (Around 15 mins)
  10. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 18-20 mins till the base is lightly browned. The cookie would remain yellow and not change colour. 
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. (I had to let it cool longer since mine was extra crumbly. To prevent burning, I picked up the cookies along with the parchment paper and kept it on the counter for around 15 minutes)
  12. Let it cool completely on the wire rack. (I did discover that 40 minutes of cooling while we took a walk was beneficial. It would have got devoured crumbs and all had we been at home!). The cookie went from extremely crumbly to can-hold-by-hand consistency upon cooling. 
*My mom taught me a trick on how to have cardamom powder always handy to use in dishes. Take a handful of pods of cardamom (skin included) and 1/4 cup of sugar. Dry grind it to a fine powder using a mixie and store in an air tight container.

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