Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Nankhatai - Indian Spiced Biscuits

One of my favourite recipes from my Indian Afternoon Tea last weekend was Nankhatai - they are the perfect cup of tea biscuits and are very easy to make. You can customise them with different spices and once they are baked, different toppings.

Nankhatai can be found in most Indian bakeries and sweetmarts, they usually bake with a cracked top but I couldn't achieve this - I'm not sure what the technique is - but they tasted just as good!

Nankhatai are eggless biscuits, a lot of Indians don't eat eggs for religious reasons which is why they are such a popular baked good in India. They contain a pleasingly large amount of butter, which gives them their melting soft texture and makes them very moreish.
My biscuits are flavoured with cardamom and saffron and I topped them with chopped pistachios (bound with a little runny honey to stop them falling out), and some of them cumin seeds, which I love with sweet things.

Nankhatai - makes about 30 biscuits (easily halved)

100g softened butter
100g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of saffron
3 pods worth of black cardamom seeds - ground finely
250g plain flour
20g gram flour / chickpea flour
30g coarse semolina
Pistachios or other nuts to decorate.

Preheat your oven 160c / gas mark 4
Cream together the butter and sugar til smooth.
Add in your spices and baking powder and stir briefly
Sift in your flours, mix with a wooden spoon first and then as it comes together use your hands to form a dough - it will be quite soft.

Line or grease a couple of large baking trays and then make 1 inch balls out of the dough and place on the sheet. They should be fully round, don't flatten otherwise you won't get lovely rounded biscuits at the end.

Once you've got all the dough balls ready press into the middle to create a small hole, being careful not to flatten them. I used a velun (a rolling pin for rotli) - you could use the end of a tablespoon very carefully to do this.

Bake for 15 minutes til they are only just a little golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and then add your pistachios or other choice of topping - other nuts work well, as does desiccated coconut, or when they are cool you can add chopped chocolate.

They keep very well for a few days in an airtight tin stored at room temperature. I recommend you have them with a cup of masala chai!

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