Happy New Year with Crumbly Nankhatais (Indian Shortbread Cookies)

Hello peeps a very Happy New Year to all of you and in case you are utterly astonished to see me emerge out of woodwork after all this time, I hope this is a pleasant enough surprise. Of course with the new year comes a host of new resolutions, or as my husband is phrasing it this year new habits. He has read some fancy self help book which says resolutions fail but if you set good (apparently binge chocolate eating is a bad habit :-( ) habits (i.e. if you can be patient and persistent enough to let them set, tight and solid, much like home set yogurt) will easily last you a lifetime. Not sure about the happily ever after bit (too long for the impatient me of social media day and age), anywho this sounded promising, so I decided to give blogging another go and try and get back to the habit once more. Wish me luck!

Over the last couple of years I thought long and hard (on and off) about why I fell off the blogging wagon and realised that the pressure of taking good (read stunning food photos) was getting to me. I am an amateur food photographer at my super stretched best, any more self inflicted pressure and I simply cracked. Not for me to figure out perfect lighting and hours of prepp setting up artistic layouts with the perfect food props (although I don't lack food props, far from it) and all that jazz. I love drooling over food photos, but have zero talent for taking those (sad face). Some of the bloggers have emerged as great photographers and made it their profession, more power to them. Sadly I am not one of those, my half baked attempts at food photography shamed me so much I simply couldn't bear to put them on my beloved blog. Every time I looked at the food pics on my computer I would cringe and think to myself that I will click better photos next time and before I knew it, blogging had well and truly been shelved. But not anymore, this year I have led a mini but firm revolt against my perfectionist, super critical self  and decided to get back to blogging with my photos in whatever shape or form they are in. Of course I will not to share blurred photos (hopefully), but quick ones with my phone in whatever plate the food is served in. When I started Kitchen Karma it was to chronicle my food journey and that is still very much ongoing (in fact I am cooking much more than ever before) so let me shed my inhibitions and get to work.

I baked these super crumbly nankhatais during the holidays to distribute among friends and neighbours. Got some good reviews hence decided to jot down the recipe before I forgot.


1. 120 grams all purpose flour
2. 120 grams whole wheat flour
3. 80 grams fine sooji/semolina
4. 60 grams besan/chickpea flour
5. 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7. 1/2 teaspoon green cardamom power
8. 1/4 teaspoon fennel, lightly crushed in mortar & pestle
9. A pinch of salt
10. 200 grams powdered sugar (if granulated, no worries, simply give it a blitz in the food processor)
11. 200 grams desi ghee/Indian clarified butter, if home made all the better, mine was store bought (melted, but not hot)
12. Zest of 2 oranges
13. Slivers of almond/pistachio for garnish


Since I am an extremely lazy cook, I used the food processor, you could take the help of your cake mixer or processor or just work your muscles doesn't take all that time.

In my food processor I dumped the powdered sugar and the ghee and pulsed it for 3 to 4 minutes till the mixture turned pale yellow in colour and fluffy in texture.

In a big mixing bowl, I sieved in all the dry ingredients including the spices (you could chuck in pieces of fennel, not a problem, in fact biting into a fennel tastes fabulous), give it a rough mix

Then slowly add the ghee and sugar mix to the dry mix, a little at a time, mixing gently with a spatula till a thick yet slightly crumbly  mixture is done. If you touch the mixture it is sandy, yet can easily form a ball and hold shape.

At this stage the batter is going to smell rather strongly of raw besan and semolina (so much so that I was wondering whether I should have roasted the two before adding), never fear, once the cookies are baked it will all vanish.

Once the mixture is all ready, gently fold in the orange peel, don't overwork this.

Leave the mixture to set in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 180 degree centigrades.

Lightly grease a couple of cookie sheets and take about a tablespoon of the mix and form a round ball, place on the cookie sheet and gently press down with the nuts, leave space between the cookies, they will expand. I got about 40 cookies from this mixture, put 20 cookies in each tray. After completing the trays, I kept them in the fridge for another 10 minutes or so to set.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes straight from the fridge, I put in both the cookies sheets at the same time, one tray in the centre rack and the other in the rack below.

In 10 to 12 minutes time your kitchen is going to be filled with a beautiful citrusy smell, like me don't be tempted to pull out the trays. Be patient, once the cookies have properly browned and look cooked in around 15/16 minutes time, pull out the trays and leave the cookies to cool down. When hot they would be extremely crumbly so much so that you may start to wonder if they will fall apart at the slightly push. They just might, leave them aside to cool, once cool they will get harder, but not like super solid. They will still be slightly crumbly in texture. They should stay for a five to seven days in an air tight tin.

If this a pretty easy recipe, you could change the spices, not add the orange zest. 

Serving suggestion with masala chai, tastes amazing, can tell from experience.

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