One of the biggest thrills I get from food blogging is the rediscovery of long-forgotten childhood favorites...I am sure a lot of us have these memories of foods tasted long ago, which we cherish for many years, either because of the unique nature/taste of that food or because of an event or circumstance associated with that food...I have such memories associated with an Indian cookie called "Nankhatai" because a lady, one of our neighbors, while we lived in Bombay, India(back when I was a kid), would bake it often and pass it onto us. At that time, we did not own an oven(baking was not a very commonly used cooking technique back then, for us)...so it was enthralling to taste home-baked goodies, hot off the oven. Plus, it was some cookie...light and crisp, almost airy and not overly sweet with a hint of nuts and cardamom...I truly loved it and I relished it many times back then...in fact, we shamelessly encouraged our neighbor aunty to make it more often!!!
After, we left Bombay and moved to Calcutta, it was forgotten and I probably never tasted it again..we had an oven at home then, still....until recently, when I was so thrilled to find recipes for it in various food websites. I was amazed to find the variety of ways to prepare this cookie...some recipes had all APFlour..some had a combination of APF and semolina flour and yet others had a combination of APF, semolina and chickpea flour...whew!!!
So, what is this "Nankhatai"? It is a shortbread-like cookie flavored with cardamom or nutmeg, a medley of nuts and was originally prepared using eggs and flour by the Parsi population in India, though later on Indian Hindus popularised an eggless version. I found a detailed video on the vahrevah blog with many interesting variations on the recipe which is what I followed, though I did make some changes to it, notably by reducing the quantity of sugar needed and ended up with a crunchy, mildly-sweet yet flavorful end-product...just like I remembered it!!! Here is to finding many more forgotten food faves...I know my family enthusiastically agrees with that thought...:))
Here is an interesting(read, detailed:)) history of this famous Nankhatai on the indiacurry website...in case you would like to know more about this delicacy(I did and I found more than I ever expected to know:)) This lovely, forgotten favorite goes to Priya's CWS - Cardamom Seeds event.
Recipe for Nankhatai:
Prep/cook time: 20- 25 mins.
servings: 14-16 pieces
1 cup all purpose flour (plain flour or maida)
1/4 cup fine sooji or semolina
1/2 cup gram flour (besan)(optional) if used, increase sugar to 2/3 cup
Pinch of baking soda (a little less than 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds coarsely powdered (ilaichi)
crushed pistachio, almonds for topping
few saffron strands
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
Note: all ethnic ingredients are available at Asian/Indian grocery stores
preheat oven to 325 f
preheat oven to 325 f
mix dry ingredients separately
mix wet ingredients well together
combine both...make soft dough ball...put in fridge for few mins...then shape into discs...press the mixture of almond-pistachio on each cookie
bake for 15 mins...will appear soft when removed from oven then will crisp up.