Naankhatai - Indian Eggless Shortbread Cookies

As a kid growing up, I always looked forward to our bakery visits. There was only one reputed bakery in our town - and something about the freshly baked breads and warm pastries there was so enticing to me even as a child -- just as it still is now :) 

We rarely baked at our home while growing up. Now I think it must have been because of lack of oven in most Indian homes at the time. So us kids were always in a treat visiting bakery!

The one item I bought every time there was naankhatai. Naankhatai is Indian shortbread eggless cookies; meant to be dunked into Chai -- which I did a lot of growing up!

I never bought naankhatai in US though plenty of Indian stores sell it here - it just never felt the same as the freshly baked once I was used to eating. So I have been meaning to try my hand at baking naankhatai this holiday season. I was surprised at how easy it is.

I made 2 batches. The picture below is from batch #2 where I reduced the butter and sugar - turns out they tend to crack a bit with reduced butter but that is just fine for my everyday eating - better actually. Less guilt. But please go with the full butter, full sugar version if you are gifting someone or sharing with friends.

Recipe (makes about 15 small naankhatai):
1C all-purpose flour
1/2C melted butter or ghee (1/2C = 8Tbsp; in the reduced butter version I used 5.5Tbsp)
1/2C powdered sugar (in the healthier version I used 1/4C + 1Tbsp sugar which ius just barely sweet)
1/2tsp baking powder
pinch of pumpkin spice (optional, sub with 1 crushed cardamom and a pinch of cinnamon)
pinch of salt

Mix the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & pumpkin spice. Mix well.

Slowly add melted butter to the dry ingredients and keep mixing to form a dough. Knead for a minute and then wrap in a plastic wrapper and set aside for 20mins in refrigerator.

Then preheat oven to 365F. Divide the dough into about 15 balls. Flatten them slightly and add them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a serving knife, make small cuts in the form of a + sign on each ball. Add some crushed nuts on top of each if you prefer (optional).

Bake for 10-15mins until desired brown-ness and crunch is achieved. Remove from heat and let cool for few mins. Store in an air-tight container.