11.12.2016

Withered Pride

I very proudly walked into the India Dukaan one evening to get a few ingredients, and casually let drop that I had just made a batch of Nan Khatai, a very delicate and not-too-sweet Indian shortbread cookie.

I go often to the dukaan (Hindi for shop) for ingredients, not only because they have all the Indian ingredients I need, but because the staff is the best ever.

If you need a traditional recipe, they can help you. I have gotten so much assistance from them - much like we get from teachers - that I wanted to go in, brag a little, and have them be proud of me for my success.

"How did you make them?" The owner asked. I repeated all the steps and ingredients, and all was going well… until I mentioned nutmeg. He practically laughed and said, "No, there is no nutmeg in Nan Khatai."

He proceeded to walk me to the cookie aisle with maybe a half dozen different brands of ready-made Nan Khatai. We looked at the ingredients on each package. Like mine, all of them had cardamom, but no nutmeg.

It had me questioning the source of the recipe. Let's just call it "The Internet." I neglected to do my usual research of looking at 5-7 different recipes for the same dish before feeling that I had located a truly authentic recipe.

My guess is that the one I originally found was made by someone who's mother or grandmother made them for her, and (just for fun, or to be perverse) she added nutmeg.

Well, here now is the traditional recipe for Nan Khatai, without the offending spice. My tarnished pride is restored.

~ David

Nan Khatai

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons semolina flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup ghee or butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
milk, if needed
chopped pistachios, for garnishing

Whisk together the flour, semolina, baking soda, and a pinch of salt in a medium mixing bowl.

In a large bowl, cream the ghee and sugar with a hand-held mixer. The mixture should become smooth, light, and creamy. Add the cardamom and beat again.

Add the dry ingredients and gently knead to make a smooth dough. If the dough looks dry, add a little milk while kneading.

Divide dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece evenly in your palms. Slightly flatten them – they should still keep some of their spherical shape. Press a few pieces of pistachio gently on the tops of each. Place the cookies in a baking tray, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F while cookies are chilling. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes till they are lightly golden. Remove and place them on wire racks.

When cooled, store the nan khatai in an airtight container.

Makes 16.

34 comments:

  1. Rules are made to be broken. Long live nutmeg (or not...). GREG

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    1. True, that, Greg. But they actually did taste better - cleaner, really - with just the cardamom! Hope you had a great birthday!

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  2. David, these look and sound wonderful! With or without the nutmeg, I would have at least two with my tea. How wonderful to have such knowledgeable people at the shop to steer you in the right direction.

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    1. Jean, the couple that runs the store is so wonderful and warm. Always a joy to go there and learn! And, yes, these Nan Khatai would be lovely with your tea!

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  3. Yummy and of course we love Nutmeg :-)

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    1. Then you must add the nutmeg to yours, Carolyne! :)

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  4. delicious especially with a cup of tea or maybe champagne???

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    1. Or cocoa, or coffee, or just by themselves, Jill!

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  5. Indian cuisine is (almost) complete terra incognita for me, and I've never tried it at home. But this sounds really nice, especially the pistachios, which I love. Who knows, you may have inspired me to take my first dive into subcontinental cuisine...

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    1. I would be very proud, Frank, if I inspired you to try Indian food! These cookies are a great way to start, but all the different cuisines from the different regions of India are wonderful.

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  6. I love cardamom in baked goods, the smell from the oven and the flavor. Would not of known that about nutmeg either. These cookies look delicious!

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    1. Cheri - I do love the waft of cardamom - so different from all the other autumnal spices!

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  7. I think I'll add nutmeg to half the batch. They look delicious!

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    1. Oh, you renegade, you! (But only a 50% renegade, Susan...)

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  8. These look lovely, just the thing to go with an afternoon coffee!
    To answer your question over on my blog - there's plenty to do in and around York. I would suggest a visit to York's Chocolate Story and a wander round the Shambles. Harrogate is lovely and a trip to Betty's is a must! If you fancy going further afield both Scarborough and Whitby are nice (Whitby for its fish and chips and Scarborough for it's forgotten time charm and huge sandy beach).
    London you'll be spoilt for choice but Borough Market is a must and a visit to Liberty's to see the Christmas decorations.
    Not to force you on to my blog but I do have a new 'travel' page on there so if you click on that you can click the pins on the map to see suggestions and review for Yorkshire and London.
    Hope that helps!

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    1. Thanks, Caroline!

      This is just what I was hoping for and will happily head over to your blog for your new travel page. Thanks for all this info - it is always best to get tips from locals! We were just looking at Betty's, so I am glad that is on your list. Burrough Market looks amazing, and we had thought about Liberty's but hadn't even thought about the Christmas decorations.

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  9. An Indian recipe that I have all the ingredients for, yea.

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    1. So glad, Karen - yes, most Indian food has a lot of ingredients (you should see my spice rack!!) - but these are simple and tasty!

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  10. Ok, so why exactly didn't you check with me about the nutmeg??? Aren't I your resident Indian (ok, barely...but I do know a few things)
    Nan khatai is such a lovely cookie. Nutmeg would've competed with the cardamom....how did you like them with the nutmeg?
    Nutmeg is hardly used in Indian desserts unlike Western desserts. We love our cardamom in desserts. Nutmeg and mace find themselves in savoury dishes along with a 1000+ other spices.
    Are you off to the UK this Christmas?
    It's a beautiful time to go...Regent Street will be spectacular at this time! Also, go to the Christmas Grotto at Selfridges...I used to go every year when I was young (and old) I think Harrods has one too.

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    1. Guilty as charged, Nazneen! Although this story actually happened several years ago before our friendship. Now, you are my go-to Indian! And I didn't love them with the nutmeg. :)

      Yes, we are still headed to York->Paris->London for the holidays... thanks for the heads up on Selfridges, as we might have missed that! Regent Street for sure. And I hear Liberty does a really nice job of decorating, too. We leave a month form today - so excited.

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  11. It is time to for me to make cookies like this. I love the spices, including the nutmeg. Tanks David. Did you like the tart?

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    1. Hi, Gerlinde - I have been meaning to write back that, yes, we loved the tart - a perfect combination of the almond and pears! The birthday girl felt very special!

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  12. Great story! And as a nutmeg hater, I am most happy for this particular revision!

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    1. I have never known a nutmeg hater before, Inger! I am glad these appeal! :)

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  13. These look delicious, especially since I've been on a cardamom kick! The guy at our Indian grocery store was really helpful when I went in asking about their unique vegetables and even told me how to prepare them. I'm sure they love sharing their cuisine!

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    1. Cardamom is one of the most special of spices - Mark makes a great cranberry sauce with cardamom. Hope you and Mike had a good Thanksgiving!

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  14. Hi David, I've definitely been misled by the "internet" before too :) We don't eat a lot of Indian food, but I've loved the dishes I've tried at restaurants. I think I really have to start dabbling with Indian cuisine and spices. I feel inspired! :) These cookies look and sound delicious! Beautiful pictures!

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    1. Marcelle - you really need to start making some Indian food. You will probably need to buy a bunch of new spices, but it is worth it! Not to brag, but my Lamb Shahi Khorma is pretty wonderful, if you all like lamb. It works with chicken thighs, too!

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  15. OMG, too funny! Isn't that the worst when you add something that shouldn't be in a recipe that you're desperately trying to make as authentic as possible? At least you learned before making them the wrong way over and over! :)

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    1. I didn't mention it, Christina, but the recipe had other flaws - too much ghee, so the cookies flattened and looked more like Florentines! They tasted okay, but they weren't Nan Khatai!

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  16. Not nice that your pride was cut down as soon as they told you there was no nutmeg in the recipe. With or without, I think I'd be eating them in handfuls.

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    1. I have such a tender pride, John - just kidding! The cookies are really good - if you are a tea drinker, I think they would be perfect with a cup!

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