Pakistani rosewater and cardamom 'Nankhatai' cookies

By • December 9, 2015 0 Comments

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Author Notes: These cookies are extremely popular in Pakistan and all around the sub-continent. The use of semolina adds a grainy crunch that reminds one of the consistency of shortbread. Inspired by the rich cultural and culinary influences of Persian and Afghani baking, the name of these cookies comes from the word 'naan' that means bread in Farsi and 'khatai' that means biscuit in Afghan. Traditionally made with ghee (clarified butter) as opposed to regular butter, they are light, airy and melt in the mouth. I add coconut flour to my recipe as I think it sets of the cardamom and adds body to the dough. Formed best by hand, no use of cutters, sprinkled with crushed pistachio and decorated with a blanched almond, they are perfect with a hot cup of cardamom chai.

My fondest memories of these aromatically sublime cookies is receiving a greasy brown paper bag filled with fresh nankhatai's from my great grandfather when I went to visit him on weekends.
Sumayya Usmani


Makes about 15 small cookies

  • 250 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour or finely ground desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • 1 tablespoon milk (optional, to bind)
  • 15 blanched almonds
  • 1 egg, beaten - use as egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons finely crushed pistachios
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C / 338 degree F. Begin with whisking the butter and sugar together until combined and light. Add the yolk and beat until smooth.
  2. Mix baking powder with the flour, cardamom, coconut flour and semolina, slowly begin to add to the butter mixture until all the flour is used up. Add rose water. Now use your hand to bind the dough together, add a little milk if needed.
  3. Taking about a tablespoon of the dough make a round ball with your hand and then using the back of the fork, press down to flatter slightly, making an indent marking. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg yolk wash over the cookie, press a blanched almond in the middle and sprinkle some crushed pistachio over the cookie. Place on baking tray and repeat until all the dough is finished,
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the corners of the cookies are light brown. The general colour of nankhatai is pale and not a very dark cookie. Allow to cool before eating. Store for 7-10 days in an airtight cookie jar.

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