It’s the same every year isn’t it? You try to get organised ahead of time to deal with the Diwali madness, but it all comes down to a hectic few days. I did manage to get a head start on Diwali baking this year, but completely forgot that Diwali falls over a long weekend this year… one that beckons a quick getaway from the city. It just struck me that I haven’t taken a holiday since July of last year! By the time I realized this, almost any and every decent place in the vicinity was booked out, so I’ve added my name to a wait list and am keeping my fingers crossed! But in the meantime, I am going to elaborate on the stuff I did _right_this year- I’ve baked huge batches of ‘nankhatai’ a traditional Indian shortbread ‘cookie’, to be wrapped up in pretty little parcels as gifts and to be served up at home over these holidays. Nothing like homemade stuff, right?
I’m so fascinated with the history of this biscuit, as we prefer to call it, in India. It has its roots in the Dutch-style butter biscuits, but I can promise you, I’ve tried the butter and only all-purpose flour version, and I swear by the addition of ghee (clarified butter) and chickpea flour. You can substitute half of the chickpea flour in this recipe with semolina, and that works fine too.
It’s a very simple recipe that has the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the ghee and sugar creamed in another. I always start out by using a whisk or wooden spoon, but by the time I get to the last addition of dry ingredients, it’s my bare (clean) hands that get this done best.
There’s no kneading required here, just gentle shaping into a round. I usually add milk to help bring the dough together. You’ll need 1 to 2 tablespoons to moisten the dough before you roll them into bite-sized rounds. Add the milk in increments of half-tablespoons until you feel you can roll these bite-sized rounds without it crumbling or developing cracks. That’s just the best way to go, and it never lets me down!
Some crushed pistachios top each nakhatai. Just press them down ever so lightly to flatten them only a teeny, tiny bit. And off to the oven they go!
They’re ready in just 20 minutes!
Some get packed in pretty box, and the rest are for you and me! Happy Diwali, everyone! I hope you enjoy these crumbly biscuits/ cookies over the long weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for me, I’m really keen to get away during this time!
Makes about 30 nankhatais.