Crispy and Tender
Nan Khatai is a close cousin of Dutch Butter Biscuit, or if I may say…Indian adapted version of Dutch butter biscuits. When Dutch started trading in India, near the end of 16th century, they set up their own bakery in Surat, the biggest trading port then to trade with western world. When the establishment left from India, they handed over their bakery to Dotivalas. Dotivalas, then adapted the original Dutch bakery recipes to suit the Indian taste and invented interesting tea time snacks. For example, Puff Pastry became Khari biscuits, Surati Batasa or Savory Dutch Butter Biscuits and Naan Khatai where they added gram flour and ghee to the Dutch butter biscuit and made them friendly to Indian consumers. If you go to any bakery in Gujarat, these three are staple with evening tea time. Later Irani Cafés (run by Persian immigrants in India), also adopted them and now they are staple in western India and around.
Naan khatai travelled a bit more and landed to north and south as well, with great fame :). I have very fond memories associated with Naan Khatai. It was not regular in my town. We have something called Numaish which means exhibition in. Urdu language, which has been happening in my town since 1881, earlier with the name of Imperial Horse Show, organized by Britishers for the showcasing of best polo and riding horses. Since 1955, it is now famous as Cultural, Agricultural and Industrial Exhobition. Well the point is, Nan Khatai was available to us only once a year, during Numaish. We loved it and ate like buckets full since we knew that it will be gone for an year then :).
Today I am sharing this special sweet with interesting history with you all :).
Are you ready? Get going !
Ghee : 1/2 cup. Vegans may use Coconut oil.
Refined flour : 1/2 cup
Besan or Gram flour or chickpea flour : 1/4 cup
Sooji or semolina : 1/4 cup
Milk powder : 1 tbsp. Vegans may use non dairy milk powder like coconut’s or soy.
Fine sugar : 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder : 1/4 tsp
Baking powder : 1/4 tsp
Saffron threads : 8-10 soaked in 1 tsp milk or vegan substitute for regular milk.
Yields : 15-18 small shortbreads
Preheat the oven to 350f or 180C. Keep a cookie tray ready. I would advise you to line it with parchment paper to avoid over blackening of the shortbread bottoms.
Heat the ghee and cool it till you can handle it with your hands.
Use the fine sugar from store or grind the granulated sugar in coffee grinder.
In a big container, add all the dry ingredients together, leaving sugar.
Once the ghee is cooled, add powdered sugar and mix well with hands till it dissolves completely. You will see a creamy texture. Add soaked saffron to it and mix.
Now add this ghee mixture to the dry mixture and gently mix with your hands. Bring the dough together.
Start making small balls out if this dough which is slightly crumbly. Use light hands. Slightly flatten the bottom of these shortbreads and lay them on the cookie sheet. Repeat till you finish the dough. Place them 1 inch apart from each other. Make delicate cross on top of these cookies. Don’t over press your knife or you will break them.
Bake them in the oven till they are slightly pink on the top. It might take 12-20 minutes, depending upon the oven and outside temperatures too. The recipe calls for 12 minutes. It took me 22 minutes to get them done. They should be firm to touch..that is what will tell you the doneness.
Take the tray out. Let sit for 1 minute. They are very delicate when hot. Take a flat spatula and gently transfer them to the cooling racks.
Enjoy them warm or cool them and store in air tight containers. They make great holiday gifts or a hostess gift :).
Tip : if you are watching weight, eat in moderation or make very small portions. There is no skinny way to enjoy these so moderation and portion control is the key :).