I am a milennial who grew up in the small city (at that time) of Pune. The childhood of people from my generation was much simpler and it rarely involved going on shopping sprees, going to malls, to the movies. What it did involve was a lot of simpler joys.
One of the highlights of my weeks used to be the Khariwala who would come every Monday. He would come with his tin trunk, balancing it on his cycle and announcing his arrival by shouting “Khariwalaaaaaaaa”. He would bring with him Khari (a savory, flaky pastry), toast (rusk), Jeera butter (no clue about the English equivalent), and the best of of the lot – Nankhatai (sort of shortbread). They were very delicate, crumbly cookies which would melt in the mouth. Having Nankhatai dunked in a big cup of coffee was one of the Go-To snack on a cold, rainy afternoon. Rainy afternoons always remind me of how much I miss those simple, happy times – a cup of coffee, Nankhatai to dunk in it, lazing around and chatting with my grandmother, mother, brother and father.
In an attempt to recreate that comfort and memories with my friends, I have started making these Nankhatais. The basic recipe is by Saee Koranne Khandekar, which I have tweaked a bit acc. to my taste.
– 1 cup ghee
– 2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour (or Dinkelmehl)
– ⅔ cup of besan (chickpea flour)
– 1¼ cup of powdered sugar
– ½ tsp. of baking soda
– few strands of saffron
– a pinch of nutmeg powder
– a pinch of cardamom powder
– 2 tbsp. of roasted nuts mix (cashews, pistachios, almonds)
Whisk the ghee and the powdered sugar in a mixing vessel till it turns creamy. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.(Set aside some nuts if you want to use them for the garnish later.) The dough will be crumbly to begin with but will start to come together. Once you have a soft dough, keep it in the fridge for 10-15 mins.
Make small balls out of the dough and press them gently between your palms. Once flat, place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Using a knife or a toothpick, make a cross on the flattened balls. If you like it, then sprinkle and gently press some of the crushed nuts into the gaps.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Bake for 10-12 mins till the crust turns light brown. Once done, let the Nankhatais cool down completely.