These Pakistani and Indian nankhatai cookies have a crumbly shortbread texture bursting with a cardamom flavor. The texture is light and the edges of these cookies are crispy and golden. These cookies are made with ghee or clarified butter. You just cannot go wrong with these crunchy cookies. Do you like cookies? Try my my Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, Butter Pecan Cookies, Lemon Crinkle Cookies, Almond Flour Peanut Butter Cookies and Matcha Cookies recipes as well.
I love recipes that connect me back with my homeland in Pakistan. These nankhatai cookies are one of my most favorite recipes that I bake very frequently. It reminds me of the sipping the evening tea in Pakistan with the whole family around. Good old days.
The texture of these nankhatai cookies has cracked tops, golden color on the edges with a whole almond or pistachio for decoration on the top.
Table of Contents
why this recipe works?
- 20 Minutes: you only need 20 minutes to bake these nankhatai cookies.
- Few Ingredients: bake these cookies with just a few staple pantry ingredients.
- Traditional Pakistani/Indian Recipe: this recipe is considered a part of Indian cuisin and equally popular in Pakistan.
- Shortbread Texture: these cookies have a shortbread cookies like texture. They are light and crispy on the edges with a light golden bottom.
- Eggless Cookies: These cookies are eggless and good for those who avoid eggs in their diet.
origin of nankhatai
NanKhatai is a combination of two Persian words, Naan means flatbread and Khatai means biscuits.
History of Nankhatai cookies: The origin of these crumbly cookies dates back to the 16th century in Surat city of India when two Dutch men set up a bakery catering to 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.
a speciality in pakistan & india
There are many shops in Pakistan who only sell NanKhatais. The sight of large crowds waiting outside these shops is common.
These cookies are largely consumed with breakfast or complimented with an evening session of chai in 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 a day before Eid. As a matter of fact, these cookies not only compliment the festive season but consumed any time of the year.
ingredients & substitutions for nankhatai
Pro Tip # 1
Always use room temperature ingredients for baking (unless otherwise specified) as they incorporate better and give perfect baked treats.
All-Purpose Flour: the base of these cookies. Use digital scale to weigh the flour. You may use wheat flour in 1:1 ratio for this recipe. You may also use a combination of wheat flour and gram flour or besan in this recipe. Use ¾ cup of wheat flour and ¾ cup of gram flour.
Ghee or Clarified Butter: use ghee at room temperature for these cookies. Use melted butter at room temperature in place of ghee in the equal ratio. But the best results is with ghee.
Sugar: use castor sugar for these cookies.
Cardamom Powder: enhances and elevates the aroma of these nankhatais.
Baking Soda: leavening agent for this recipe.
Semolina: adds crispiness to these cookies.
Pro Tip # 2
Always use a digital scale to measure all-purpose flour and other dry ingredients for perfect results. Scooping it out directly using cups may result in uneven amount of dry ingredients and dense bakes.
how to make nankhatai
These are basic process shots for this recipe. For detailed instructions refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
1. Take a mixing bowl, sift in the dry ingredients, add the ghee, sugar and green cardamom powder. Mix and knead into a soft dough.
2. Weigh in the small balls of the dough keeping them at 30 grams for each cookie. You'll get 20 cookies.
3. Place the cookies on a baking tray or a cookie sheet lined with a parchment paper or a silicone sheet.
4. Brush the cookies with an egg yolk and garnish with a pistachio. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven (convection oven) at 350 F for 20 – 23 minutes.
Soft Dough: Make sure the dough is smooth and a little soft. This soft dough is key in order to obtain the right texture and flaky biscuits.
Ghee (Clarified Butter): The ghee should be at room temprature and in semi-solid grainy state for these cookies. In case the ghee is melted or in a liquid state, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes until it solidifies a bit. Also, do not use cold or totally solidified ghee for nankhatais.
No Kneading: You do not want to knead the dough for long. This is not a bread dough that requires kneading. You just need to bring the dough together and that's it.
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 it gives the cookies a crumbly and buttery flavor, which can’t be achieve with butter.
Because these cookies have a short bread cookie texture, that's why these are eggless cookies.
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 substitute 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 I 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
- These nankhatai cookies will stay fresh for 4 – 5 days in an airtight container over the counter.
- You can store them in the refrigerator for 7 – 8 days easily.
- The nankhatai cookies will stay fresh for up to one month in the freezer. 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.
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Nankhatai Recipe (Indian/Pakistani Traditional Cookies)
- Baking Tray
- Silicone Mat
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Digital Scale
- Mixing bowl.
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour (190 g)
- 2 tablespoon semolina (fine) (11 g)
- 1 cup castor sugar (200 g)
- ½ cup ghee (clarified butter) (100 g) at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda (1.25 g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder (1 g)
- 18 - 20 pistachios (whole) for decoration
- 1 egg yolk
- 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.