I love to bake. Well, that’s an understatement. I’m addicted to baking, I should say. But the problem is my stand-mixer has no place on the kitchen counter and therefore is kept inside its packaging, even now. Everytime I bake, I need to take it out of the package, use, dry each part and keep it back. It kinda is a hectic job especially for me who hates too much work. And as to why there’s no place in my kitchen….well let’s just blame it on my husband.
He took up this apartment when I wasn’t here and the last place he thought I would be worried about in our apartment would be… the kitchen. Actually I can’t blame him either. Before moving in here about 2 years back, I just cooked to survive. I didn’t like cooking/baking at all. So I guess I’m to be blamed that I changed in the past 2 years and that I over-estimated him. :-P. While he was house hunting, I gave him a list of things that needed to be checked or crossed – good ventilation, loads of natural light coming into the apartment, open view of the horizon (it now faces the Arabian sea :-)) and not a view of another building or another person’s apartment (I’m kind of claustrophobic), good maintenance, new apartment, car parking allotment, easy for friends to get home…and loads more. But yes, I never said… “BIG KITCHEN”, because I thought he knew that though I didn’t cook much (then), I always had it in me to amass kitchen baking and cooking equipments, and needed space for all of them. But naa…! So though I got everything I wanted as per what I mentioned in the list, I got it at a price of a small kitchen. Therefore, I’ve just enough space on my counter to keep my kettle, microwave and my blender/grinder… I don’t have space for my multi-purpose food processor or my stand mixer. 😦 Yea, that’s sad I know!
And ever since, I’m always on the look out for recipes that lets me enjoy baking but without the headache of pulling out my stand-mixer. And that’s when on a cookery show on TV a couple of months back I saw this Nankatai recipe. Being born and brought up in the Middle East, I hadn’t heard of Nankatai at all, forget tasting one, so didn’t have the slightest idea of what it was or how it was supposed to taste. But I totally loved its simplicity and therefore jotted it down. Ever since then, tt stared at me almost everyday, when I added more recipes to the book but I was always skeptical. I didn’t know whether we would like it, and i didn’t want to waste flour and butter and stuff.
Finally a few days back, I mustered up the courage and thought it was about time I give it a try. I did some research online too and read many recipes online for Nankatai – some asked for pistachio, some cardamom, some added chickpea flour, some put in almonds…and so on. But since this was my first time I was baking these cookies, I wanted to make it simple. Therefore got an idea from the TV show and online recipes and did my own stuff. I still don’t know whether what I baked is what a traditional Nankatai should taste like…but my husband claims it’s the same and from the pictures on the net, I can say I’m not too far off from the original. To make it more appealing to my son, I added some chocolate chip cookies too. 🙂
And guess what…While the cookies were still baking in the oven, my husband returned home from work, and he said…. “wow the house smells nice. But this smell….this aroma reminds me of something I used to eat as a kid”. He wasn’t able to place a finger on what it reminded him of. He asked me what I was baking and though I said Nankatai.,,it still didn’t ring a bell. But later, when I took it out of the oven and he took a bite off these fresh cookies….he knew exactly what they were! These were the exact cookies the bakery-waala (bakery man), near his place used to bake fresh every evening. And my husband would eat it so often when he went to buy bread and rusks, after school. Yep! :)He didn’t know it’s called Nankatai because all along he only pointed at the cookies and said he wanted some of those too to be packed with the bread. 🙂 Can you imagine that?? Well, that was such a good surprise for both of us. I was excited that I was able to pull off a traditional Indian cookie, and glad I could bring back old sweet memories for him.
NANKATAI (makes about 25 cookies)
- All purpose flour – 200 grams
- Unsalted butter (at room temperature) – 125 grams
- Castor Sugar – 90 grams (or you could use freshly powdered sugar too)
- Cardamom powder – a pinch
- Chocolate chips – as needed
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray or cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Mix flour, butter, sugar and cardamom powder together and slightly knead the dough. Try to make small balls of the dough. If the balls are not forming and just breaking off, then add a little more butter to the whole mixture and try again.
To each ball, add 2-3 chocolate chips, roll it again and slightly flatten the ball. You could even add the chocolate chips at the initial stage to the flour, along with sugar and cardamom. And then knead it into balls. But I prefer adding the chocolate chip to each ball while rolling, because it lets me ensure that only 2-3 pieces of chocolate goes into each cookie and therefore it’s not too sweet or chocolatey.
Place them on the baking tray with 1-2 inch gap between them because the cookies will expand as they bake.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or till the bottom of the cookies are slightly browned.
When it comes out of the oven, it will be still soft. So let it cool on a wire-rack for 5 – 10 minutes and it will harden and be nice and crunchy.
Serve with hot chai or coffee.
- If stored in an air-tight container, it will last for about a month.
- You can replace chocolate chips with pistachios, almonds, cashews or have it plain.