Crumbly, nutty nankhatai are everyone’s favorite. I make them often especially for the kids with different flavors and nuts. I make them with besan only, or sometimes with a mix of different flours- all purpose & semolina. There are truly so many combinations of flours and flavors.
This was the cookie which I grew up with. We had a round aluminum oven at my grandma’s place and it saw light of the day just to bake nankhatais. Every two weeks we had a fun baking session with my siblings, aunts and mom and we made tons of nankhatai. The texture of nankhatai is unique- its crumbly yet soft and mouthful. They should be crisp outside but still have a melt in the mouth centre. These nankhatai are super easy to make, just need a handful of ingredients and make for a good treat anytime.
Some tips to keep in mind when making Nankhatai.
- I use ghee to make the dough. The ghee should be softened, it should not be melted. It should not be solid. It should be similar to softened butter. The flours bind using just ghee and no other wet ingredient, so its important that the ghee is measured properly(too much will make the cookies spread) and is of the right consistency .
- I make nankhatai using just chickpea flour many a times (will share recipe sometime), however I feel using all purpose flour gives a nice body to the cookies and besan gives an amazing taste. Semolina can be added as well for extra crispiness.
- The kind of sugar which is suitable is confectioners sugar or powdered sugar. Please dont use granulated or raw sugar ground at home. Store bough powdered sugar has a little bit of cornstarch which helps in the texture of the cookies.
- Nut powder- If you have allergies, you can skip it and substitute it with equal quantity of flour. Or substitute with any kind of nut powder you fancy- cashew & pistachios work great. However keep in mind to use finely ground nuts in this recipe. Finely ground almonds are different from almond meal. If you have almond meal at home, process it to fine before using.
- Th best way to know the if the dough is right is so feel it. The dough should come together in a ball and it should be soft yet firm. The dough should not be sticky at all. If it sticking to your hands, that means that you added more ghee and this will make the cookies spread too much when they bake, so add little flour to firm up the dough.
- I used thandai spices(not powder) to spice up these nankhatai, you can use just cardamom powder if you wish.
- I used gel colors to the dough in the spirit of festival of Holi, you can skip the colors and make them traditional as well.
Thandai Spiced Nankhatai
- Mixing bowls, cookie sheet, measuring spoons and cups
For The Nankhatai
- 75 gms (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
- 25 gms(1/4 cup) besan
- 20 gms (about 1/4 cup) finely ground almond powder
- 75 gms(10tbsp) powdered sugar
- 75-100 gms (1/3 cup – 1/2 cup) softened ghee, not melted adjust depending on consistency of dough
- 1 tsp thandai spice powder (recipe below)
Thandai Spice (makes extra)
- 1 tsp (8-10) black peppercorns
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 green cardamom pods, seeds only
- 3-4 saffron threads
- Add all the thandai spices to a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.
- Place a sieve over a large bowl and sift flour, almond flour, powdered sugar and besan. Make sure that there are no lumps.
- Add the thandai spice powder and mix with fingers to combine.
- Add softened ghee in parts, a little at a time and start mixing with the other hand(or a soft spatula) at the same time to incorporate the ghee. Mix very well, we want to moisten each and every speck of flours with ghee- makes for a crumbly nankhatai.
- Incorporate ghee as needed to make a soft yet firm dough. You will use anywhere from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup depending upon the absorption quality of your flour.The dough should not be loose or sticky. If needed due to wamr weather, refrigerate the dough to make handling easier.
- Once the dough is formed, divide into 4 portions and and add gel color of your choice to dye each portion.
- Pinch small portions (these spread a bit) of the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with paper. You can press a whole raw almond on top or any nut of choice. Place the cookies a bit apart since these spread a little(not much).
- Refrigerate for 10 minutes(dont skip). Meanwhile preheat the oven to 325F.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes till the bottoms are light golden in color. Cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!