In India, baking was not part of our daily cooking, though in Punjab people used to prepare roti in clay-made oven called ‘Tandoor’ which is still very popular. Other than tandoor there used to be a slightly different kind of oven, built with bricks and clay named ‘Bhatti’ and it was used to roast grains like jowar, chana etc. When Britishers came here, they brought cake, biscuits and bread. Cake was an occasional thing, but biscuits and breads became popular with common people. Overall, baking was more prevalent in South India .
During partition, when thousands of people belonging to Sindhi community came to India from Pakistan, they started baking for employment. I remember my mother and her neighbourhood friends used to take all raw ingredients to one shop and within an hour they used to give soft, warm, melt-in-mouth nankhatai. Slowly, in few years the younger generation of these small shop owner families turned their old fashioned shops into modern style bakery.
Since then nankhatai is my favorite cookie. Generally, it is done with maida only, but I always like slight crunch of rava/semolina in cookies, so I have added that along with wheat flour. If you are not interested into using rava and wheat flour, eliminate both of them and add white flour in the same quantity.
White flour (maida) 3/4 cup
Wheat flour 2 tbsp
Semolina (rava) 2 tbsp
Granulated sugar 1/2 cup (later, powder it)
Ghee (clarified butter) 1/2 cup minus 1-2 tbsp
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Baking soda 1/4 tsp
Baking powder 1/8
All ingredients should be on room temperature.
Measure and collect all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix them well.
Add melted ghee. Remember that ghee should be melted but not warm.
Gently mix everything and collect it together in the shape of dough. In case you have added more ghee and dough is loose, just wrap it in cling-wrap and keep it in the fridge until it becomes firm to roll nankhatai conveniently.
Prepare balls of same size from the dough and with your finger make an indent in nankhatai. Keep all of these in ready baking tray.
Keep your baking tray ready by either greasing it with butter/ghee or by rolling parchment paper over it.
Bake these nankhatai in a preheated oven at 165/170 degrees for 15/20 minutes.
If your oven has hotspots, turn the tray in between for even baking.
Generally nankhatai doesn’t change much colour after baking. These wouldn’t become brown like other cookies, so after 15 minutes, if nankhatai are firm, take them out.
Taste them warm – they are sinfully delicious 😋 😋.
Nankhatai are best as gift option during festivals. To make them more attractive, sprinkle some chopped dry fruits just before packing.