Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tea Time

Fall has finally made its first appearance. Even in my ever warm city, every sign says the long bright days we take for granted are not here to stay for long. The days have begun to start with dense, dreamy fogs and the cool night breezes have forced us to pull out those dusty jackets. And more than anything else, my body has warned me about the change in season already. I've got flue - hmph! But there are two things that console me even when I've got burning eyes, sore throat and body ache:

1. Fall sets the mood for a multitude of festivals.
2. I'm all ready to tackle the cold season with a few heartwarming baking recipes under my belt!

This kind of weather (and a sore throat) makes me crave a super soothing cup of Indian tea with lots of ginger and some cardamom. But what's some tea without a few crispy cookies biscuits to dunk in it? Of course, my already scarce supply of Good-Day had vanished last week and I was left with an unsatisfied craving for some tea-biscuits. Well, what do you know - I pulled my baker's hat and made a batch of nutty, crispy, crumbly Nankatai biscuits to go with my tea!

Nankatai is a simple Indian sugar cookie, except it's toastier and crispier and doesn't have eggs. I remember our local bakery in India carrying home-made nankati neatly stacked in a tight jar, sitting right in one corner of the counter. Every time we ordered the cookies by the grams, the owner would remove them with utmost care, not breaking any, and pack them in a brown bag for us. You could smell the wonderful buttery aroma infused with cardamom powder and toasty nuts all the way to the house. They came with a variety of nuts, such as pistachios, cashews or almonds, or sometimes a few golden orange saffron strands. Then my mom would make us some tea, which none of us really cared to drink otherwise, and we would most usually finish the cookies with one cup of tea.

My mom never cared to bake, but I remember my aunt baking nankatai at home. I would hardly call it Baking, because they are so ridiculously simple to make! The overall preparation + baking time is hardly 15-20 minutes. The cookies crack open to let out that buttery whiff of steam as they bake. You can add a little more butter to make them softer, but they can break easily. I like the crispy ones with my tea much better. This recipe makes about 10-12 cookies.

This recipe is going to the Friday Potluck hosted by Vatsala of Show and Tell.

Nankatai - Indian Sugar Cookie

3/4 Cup All purpose flour and whole wheat flour (half and half)
1 1/2 Teaspoon semolina
1/3 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup sugar - or a little less based on how sweet you would want them
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
2-3 Pinches cardamom powder
Couple of teaspoons chopped nuts - I used cashew + few for garnishing

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Beat butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. 
  • Sift the flour and baking soda and all the ingredients to the butter+sugar mixture. Mix well until the dough comes together.
  • Make round balls of the dough and flatten a little and keep them on a baking sheet. Press a piece of cashew on top for garnish and sprinkle a little bit of sugar. 
  • Bake for 12 minutes or so or until the cookies turn golden. They may still feel a little soft in the center. Take them out and let them cool for a few minutes. The cookies will harden perfectly while cooling. 

The whole wheat flour makes nankatai very toasty, what I would call 'khuskhushit' in Marathi. That touch of semolina provides a wonderful bite. These are perfect with a cup of tea or warm milk!


Priyanka said...

You had to post this when I'm trying to cut down on sugar, didn't you? :) Now even if i dont want to, I have to make these as soon as possible. :P

Meandering Eats said...

Hey Snehal... those look absolutely wonderful! Something for the next Roundtable, perhaps? ;)

Vatsala. said...

wonderfully done dear. Thanks for linking.
Invitation for a potluck

Vandana Rajesh said...

Nankhatai is one of my fav and takes me back to my childhood...loved the looks of your nankhatais..tempting indeed.

Tanvi@Sinfully Spicy said...

Perfect cookies..wish I could have some while I sip my tea right now!

Snehal said...

@Priyanka: I've seem to be coming up with different excuses to eat sweets. I will post something healthy next time, I promise.

@Marie: For sure!

@Vatsala: Your Friday Potlucks are fun. I'll be participating more often in the future.

@Vandana: Thank you for stopping by :)

@Tanvi: Thank you!

Jay said...

will surely try this...n tag you in..
thanks for the awesome recipe..:)
Tasty Appetite

Aruna Manikandan said...

First time here....
nankatai's look delectable..
U have a wonderful space, with delicious recipes, glad to follow u :)

aipi said...

Looks melt in mouth kind delicious , they are addictive I bet!

Snehal said...

@Jay: Would love to hear if you try them!

@Aruna: Thank you for stopping by my blog :)

@aipi: These are my childhood favorites.


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