September 30, 2012

Of autumn warmth and Nan-Khatai

Long before terms like shortbread and cookie were introduced into my jargon, nan khatai ruled a special corner in my heart exclusively reserved for warm and gratifying baked goods. My first introduction to this nutty shortbread dates back to days when the only way my Ma would agree to serve us tea (the milky version that too!) was if it was with nan khatai. Haven’t tried dunking nan khatai in tea yet? Hmm….you might definitely want to :)

Sweet or salty, soft and powdery or crunchy and crumbly – this simple, few ingredient cookie has been an all-time favorite ever since. The basic recipe from my Ma had been tucked away neatly in one of my folders until that trip to the bakery last week. I tasted something so similar to nan khatai that it rejuvenated me with renewed energy to try it out. With the beginning of Fall, baking seems the best way to warm up the kitchen as well as memories with age old recipes. So, this is my first real baking venture of fall this year and what better way to start than with our own indigenous baking wonder- the nan khatai.

There are several recipes for nan khatai and of course several proportions to be mindful of. Since I find baking a little bit constricting, this recipe seems very soothing and welcoming for a baking novice like me since it allows me to experiment and that for me, is absolutely liberating. Nan khatai is basically made of all purpose flour or maida with varying proportions of chick pea flour or besan to bring in that nuttiness. Some add in rava or semolina for crispiness but I opted out of it for now. I desired for that flawless balance of nuttiness and crunchiness that would make me swoon in delight.


This egg-less Indian shortbread represents an unique blend of nuttiness from chick-pea flour (besan) and warmth from Indian clarified butter (ghee) melding effortlessly with the richness of cashews. Soft yet firm and crumbly yet crunchy, it represents the quintessential basic Indian shortbread.


1¼ C ghee / Unsalted Butter
¾ C Powdered Sugar

Sieve together:
½ tsp baking powder
2 C All purpose flour / Maida
½ C Chick Pea flour / Besan
¼ tsp salt
2 T Cashew powder (Coarsely ground) 

Egg wash (Optional) - 1 egg mixed with 1 T water
Cashew powder for garnish (Optional)


1.   Warm the ghee till it has just melted.
2.   Add in the powdered sugar and mix well to smooth out any lumps.
3.   In another bowl, sieve all purpose and chick pea flour along with salt, cashew powder and baking powder to mix uniformly.
4.   Then add in the melted ghee & sugar mixture into the flour mixture and knead well to form a dough.
5.   Let it rest to come together for about 2 minutes.
6.   Preheat the oven to 350oF.
7.   Form smooth, round ball with the dough. I used the tablespoon to measure out uniform sized biscuits. Flatten the balls slightly with cashew on top so that they have smooth edges.
8.   Optional: To add that shine onto your biscuits, whisk one egg with 1 T water and brush the biscuits before they go to bake.
9.   Place them to bake in the oven for 14 minutes till golden brown on top. Once out of the oven, transfer them to a cool plate/surface and let them cool till they crisp up.

The nan khatai turned out to be exactly as I wanted. This trial taught me that the delicate balance of chick pea flour and all purpose flour is very essential, since both of them are not interchangeable. Point to note, besan has more fiber content than all-purpose flour and when added in more quantities it results in the dough not being cohesive enough. So the proportion even though changeable, should be so taken care of that the dough adheres properly but by not compromising the nuttiness. Delighted by being able to replicate the delicate, nutty, crumbly and flavorful shortbread, I bring to you this recipe which I am looking forward to make several variations of.

Cheers to the official beginning of Fall, guys!

I am submitting this recipe to:
- "Celebrate Navratri and Diwali" hosted by Nayna and Jagruti Dhanecha.
- " Diwali Bash" hosted by Vardhini
- "Kid's delight: Healthy Makeovers" hosted by Rasi
- "Bake fest" hosted by Sumee and Vardhini.
- "Let's cook/bake for Valentine" hosted by Simply sensational food.


  1. Hi dear nice naankhatai,
    please check the roundup and collect your badge.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Hey dear Jagruti,
    I am now a regular reader of this online kitchen. I am a sweet tooth and hence preferably, I read those. I will trying 3 of ur recipes, Nan-khatai, Kaju Barfi n hazelnut cookies.

    When my Mommy makes Nan-khatai, she does not add besan. Just curious to know how differently does besan add to the flavour so that I can suggest her too.
    By the way, u helped me sort out my New year celebrations mithai options.
    Thanks n tk cr
    Keep cooking n sharing

  4. Hey dear Jagruti,

    I am a regular reader of this blog n preferably the sweets n cookies. I am a sweet tooth. You helped me sort out my New Year Mithai options. I will trying out, hazelnut cookies, barfi n nan-khatai[my fav].

    When Mommy cooks nan-khatai she does not add besan. so wanted to know d reason for this variation n how exactly u thot of it?
    Keep cooking n sharing
    tk cr

  5. Yummy Nankatai.. Looks sooo soft. thnx for reposting to link up.


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