These Pakistani/Indian nankhatai cookies have a crumbly shortbread texture with a cardamom flavor. You just cannot go wrong with these crispy and crunchy cookies.
The food that reminds you of your roots and connects you with memories - is the one that I crave the most here in the United States. Every time I bake a Pakistani dessert or cookies or a cake, it takes me back to my childhood memories. Nan-Khatai biscuit is one of those yummy crumbly biscuits that always takes me back to Pakistan, where these biscuits are a staple item with evening tea times, and everyone loves it.
My authentic Nankhatai recipe will take 20 minutes to bake. The texture is crunchy and crumbly just like shortbread cookies. These are the traditional Indian/Pakistani shortbread cookies and known as an Indian biscuit or considered a part of Indian cuisine and equally popular in Pakistan. The word NanKhatai is a combination of two Persian words, Naan means flatbread and Khatai means biscuits.
The origin of these crumbly cookies goes back to the 16th century in the Surat city of India. It is believed that two Dutch men had set up a bakery in Surat city catering the needs of the local Dutch population there. When the Dutch left, the bakery was taken over by a Parsi man who invented this recipe, which later on became a staple for the Indian Subcontinent region. These crisp Nankhatai cookies or the Indian Butter Cookies are equally popular in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In short, these are the darling cookies of the whole of the South Asian region.
Pakistanis Wait in Lines Outside the Bakeries
I remember a lots of bakery shops both in Rawalpindi and Lahore cities in the Punjab province in Pakistan, only selling NanKhatais. The sight of large crowds waiting outside them is common. I have to mention Lahore’s special Khalifa ki Khataiyan (Khalifa’s NanKhatais), which are a special treat for Pakistanis all across the country. The shop not only caters the locals but also ships the cookies to those living in other cities and people even take them as a treat for their loved ones in other countries. Amazing !!
These cookies are largely consumed with breakfast, tea time or complimented with an evening cup of chai. The typical texture of these cookies has cracked tops, golden color on the edges, and it usually has a whole almond for decoration on the top.
Eid & Diwali Speciality in India and Pakistan
These crumbly and crunchy biscuits/cookies are a must during the Eid celebrations for Muslims and Diwali celebration for Hindus in India and Pakistan. I have always seen my mom preparing large batches of these delicious biscuits on Eid day, which were loved by all at home. As a matter of fact, these cookies not only compliment the festive season but any time of the year, as it is one of the all time favorites cookie recipes.
Naan Khatai are simple buttery cookies made with ghee or clarified butter. We love adding cardamom flavor to it and that's impossible not to do so because we South Asians love cardamom in almost all of our desserts and cookies. We even love adding cardamom in our tea. Don't be surprised to see me using cardamom in many of my recipes on this blog.
When you will work on the dough you will see it is a smooth dough. This soft dough is necessary in order to obtain the right texture and flaky biscuits.
You do not require fancy ingredients to make these cookies. Most of the ingredients should be readily available in your pantry. The ingredients you need are:
Ghee or Clarified Butter
Step 1: Take a mixing bowl, sift in the dry ingredients, add the ghee, sugar and green cardamom powder.
Step 2: Mix in all the ingredients and knead with hands until it forms the shape of a dough ball.
Step 3: Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Do not skip this step.
Step 4: Weight in the small balls of the dough keeping them at 30 grams for each cookie.
Step 5: You will have about 19 - 20 cookies.
Step 6: Place the cookies on a baking tray or a cookie sheet lined with a parchment paper or a silicone sheet.
Step 7: Brush the cookies with an egg yolk.
Step 8: Garnish each cookies with a whole almond or a pistachio.
Step 9: Bake the cookies in a preheated oven (convection oven) at 350 F for 20 – 23 minutes.
Step 10: The baked cookies have golden edges and a light golden bottom.
Step 11: Place them on a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing them.
Good question, Semolina is used in this recipe to make them crispy, crunchy and to give it a nice texture.
You may – but I would strongly oppose it. You should make these cookies with Ghee only because ghee gives the cookies a crumbly and buttery flavor, which you can’t achieve with butter.
No - do not melt the ghee for this recipe. You want to use Ghee at room temperature to make the perfect cookies.
No, you should not skip on chilling the dough or you will not achieve the crumbly texture.
Because these cookies have a short bread cookie texture, that's why these are eggless cookies.
Yes, you may, but beware that the texture will be a little different and the taste will be a little nuttier. If you would like to replace, use half amount of all-purpose flour and replace the other half with whole wheat flour.
I do not like gram flour in this recipe. However, the traditional recipe calls for gram flour, all-purpose flour and semolina. I only use all-purpose flour and semolina in this recipe. If you want subsitute ½ cup of all-purpose flour with gram flour.
Yes, you can, if you are a fan of nutmeg flavor. I personally think that nutmeg has a strong flavor and do not add it in the recipe.
Yes – you can easily double or triple the recipe and you should get the same result.
How to Store
On the Counter: These cookies will stay fresh for 4 – 5 days in an airtight container over the counter.
In the Refrigerator: You can store them in the refrigerator for 7 – 8 days easily.
In the Freezer: The cookies can be frozen and will stay fresh for up to one month. Simply semi-freeze the cookies before placing them in the freezer. Then wrap each cookies in plastic wrap and add a layer of aluminum foil to it. Place the cookies in a Ziploc bag and stash them in the freezer for up to a month.
Nankhatai Recipe (Indian/Pakistani Traditional Cookies)
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour (190 grams)
- 2 tablespoon semolina (fine)
- 1 cup castor sugar (200 grams)
- ½ cup ghee (clarified butter) at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 18 - 20 pistachios (whole) for decoration
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Take a bowl and sift all-purpose flour, semolina, baking soda, salt and cardamom powder. Add castor sugar to the dry ingredients and whisk together.
- Add the ghee to the dry ingredients and rub it together until a dough is formed. The dough should be soft and if you touch the finger it will leave a small dent.
- Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven at 350 F once you are ready to bake the cookies.
- Take out the dough out of the fridge and make small portions. Each portion should be 30 grams in weight.
- The dough will make 19 cookies.
- Take the balls between the palms of your hands and press it gently. Please the cookies in the baking tray.
- Beat the egg and apply the egg-wash on each cookies with a pastry brush.
- Now decorate the cookies by placing one pistachio on the top.
- Place the baking tray in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 - 18 minutes until the edges of the nankhatais are light brown.
- Once baked, take out the cookies and place them on the wire rack to cool completely.