Nankhatai

Quick and easy, these cookies get done in a jiffy. The only apparatus you need is a measuring cup and a mixing bowl – another reason to love them.

I learnt this recipe at a hobby class I attended many years ago in Navi Mumbai. At a loss of what to bake yesterday evening, I pulled out my old notes. These simple, indian cookies appealed to me. They required practically no effort and that was their main selling point.

Ingredients:

  • Maida- 1 1/2 C
  • Ghee (solid)- 1 C
  • Sugar (powdered)- 3/4 c
  • Rawa/besan- 1- 2 tbsp (optional)
  • Cardamom powder- 3-4 pinches

Method:

  • In a mixing bowl, mix together ghee,maida, sugar rawa/besan and cardamom power. You can bring the dough together using your hands. If you add besan(chickpea flower) or rawa/suji (semolina),it will have a slightly course texture.
  • Divide the dough into equal portions. Roll each portion into a circular shape and place on a lined baking tray. You can put half an almond or a pistachio on top of each cookie.  Or if you prefer make a design with a sharp knife. I kept mine plain.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg. C for about 12 minutes.
Stacked up
Stacked up
Broken off
Broken off

The cookies can be flavoured with saffron instead of cardamom.  While my orginal recipe doesn’t mention baking powder, most recipes I have read tuse a pinch or two. We liked the way the cookies turned out but a little leavening would make them better.

I made half the quantity given in the recipe and I got 9 cookies of 2.5” diameter.

The nankhatai made it to office as well. It was well received and polished off quickly.

Boxed!
Boxed!
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Jeera cookies

One of the most extensively used spice in our kitchen is the humble jeera.We add it to sundry vegetables, dals and powder it to sprinkle it over our dahi.

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Ingredients:

  • 120 gms maida/APF
  • 85 gms butter
  • 20 gms sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp jeera(cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain(carom seeds)

Method:

  • Preheat oven at 180 deg.C
  • Beat butter,sugar and salt till light and fluffy.
  • Sieve flour. Add jeera and ajwain to it.
  • Add flour to the butter mixture and mix gently to get a soft dough. Using your hands works best for this.
  • Form dough into small balls. Flatten the top of each ball with a fork. Sprikle a few seeds of jeera on top and press them very gently into the dough.
  • Line a baking tray with greased  butter paper/aluminium foil. Place biscuits and bake for 15-20 mins.

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Source: Nita Mehta’s Bakes and cakes.

Notes: I particularly like the combination of sweet and salty in this cookie. I found the proportion of the two to be just right. If you want to make a salty jeera cookie, you can simply delete the sugar from the recipe. You can do the same with ajwain if you dont like it. Though the recipe suggests  sprinkling a little cumin on top of the cookies before popping them in the oven,my habit of skip reading made me miss that line.  I  realised that only after the cookies were baked.  Cumin for decoration would have added that extra touch. But thats not to say the cookies tasted any worse just coz they dint have cumin sprinkled over! Actually, if you look carefully, you will be able to notice one or two cumin seeds sitting on top of the cookies. :p The dough is slightly on the hard side, so its not very easy to roll it. It works best to bake small balls of the dough(like you make for rotis) and flatten them between your palms.

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Thumbprint cookies

thumbprint

Once again I  used the cuban short bread cookies as a reference  point for these cookies.

Ingredient:

  • 75 gms  APF
  • 35-40 gms butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 15 gms sugar
  • A little egg to bind (about ¼ egg)
  • Jam to top
  • 8-10 cashew nuts coarsely ground

Method:

  • Sift  together flour, salt and b.p. Keep aside.
  • Rub in the butter using your finger such they the flour resembles bread crumbs. Adding egg bind the dough together.
  • Make six to seven portions of the dough. Shape each of them into even round. Using your thumb press  the centre of the dough ball. The depression created wil be filled with jam post baking.
  • Prepare all the six/seven pieces this way. Baste the sides and top of each cookie with egg white and lightly roll them in the crushed cashew such that the cashew evenly coveres the cookies.
  • Bake at 180 deg C for about 10 mins.
  • Remove from oven. Let cool and pipe in jam of your choice.

 

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Notes: I got 8 small cookies out of this recipe. I wanted to try it in small quantities, so it worked out fine for me, but you may want to double up the recipe to meet your family’s needs. I struggled a bit in shaping these cookies. No matter what I did the depression in the centre wasnt deep enough!! I have realised that it works best to do the basic  shaping  of the cookie with your hands and then to place in on a flat surface and then create teh depression. If you try making the depression while holding the cookie in your hand, you get no depression at all!!  You could use any nuts besides cashews- almonds, pistachios,walnuts.  The choice of jam is also open to you. I had strawberry (with strawberry chunks) and mango jam at home. Kissan has come up with these cool squeeze tubes for jams. If you have one of those at home, use it to pipe in the jam. Its much easier and neater than spooning in the jam. If you want to store these cookies for a while, it might be a good idea to store them without the jam. Jam tends to make the cookies soft over time, so it makes sense to store them in air tight containers without the filling.Add the filling a little before serving. I liked these cookies because they  have the right amount of sweetness and crunchiness.

Cashew cookies

Most people,barring me, like dry fruits so this is a cookie that should appeal to the aam junta(as you can see the election fever will take sometime fade away!)

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Ingredients:

  • 100 gms maida
  • 75 gms softened butter
  • 50 gms powdered sugar
  • 2 drops almond essence/1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2-3 tbsp finely chopped cashewnuts

Method:

  • Sieve maida.
  • Preheat oven at 200 deg C.
  • Beat butter and sugar till light and creamy. Add essence and beat again.
  • Add flour and mix gently to get a soft dough.
  • Form into small balls, flatten lightly and roll in the chopped cashews.
  • Arrange in a greased baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from tray when cool.

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Notes: There is nothing wrong with these cookies except one thing- the cashew pieces tend to fall off once the cookies are baked.  Obviously just pressing them onto the cookies before baking isnt good enough. I think to remedy the situation we could baste the cookies with lightly beaten egg white and then roll them in the cashew piece. I think that would make them stick better. I am not sure how effective would using milk as a substitute of egg white be since  I normally use egg in recipes I am not sure about how effective its substitutes are.

This by the way, is the tenth cookie on this blog. Not bad I think!!:D

Orange cookies

A variation to the basic shortbread- zesty and orangey!

Ingredients:

  • Maida 60 gms
  • Butter 30 gms
  • Orange essence a few drops
  • Fresh orange zest 1½-2 tbsp
  • Baking powder   ½ tsp
  • Milk to bind

Method:

  • Mix together the maida and the baking powder.
  • Rub in the butter till the flour begins resembling bread crumbs.
  • Add the orange zest and essence and mix well.
  • Use milk to bind together.
  • Use the dought to form any shape you like and place the cookies on a well greased over tray and bake for 10-15 min.s at 180 deg.C.
  • Makes 10 small cookies.

Mandira’s notes: I relaly dont have anything much to write about this cookie, just that the short bread lends itself to millions of varaitions!All you need is a fertile imagination! 

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Cheese sticks

This is what I call “cheesy and easy”!! It takes just about 5 minutes to put it all together!

Ingredient:

  • Maida-60 gms
  • Baking powder-1/3 tsp (optional)
  • Salt -to taste
  • Pepper -to taste
  • Butter- 30 gms
  • Grated processed cheese-30 gms
  • Egg yolk-1/2 + a little for basting
  • Water-just enough to bind.

Method:

  • Pre heat oven.
  • Sift flour, salt, pepper and baking powder together.
  • Add the butter and gently rub it in till it begins to look like fine bread crumbs.
  • Stir in the cheese and bind together with egg yolk and water to form a thick dough.
  • Roll out the dough and cut into strips.
  • Bake the strips on a well greased tray at 160 deg.C for 7-10 mins.

Source: Basic Food Preparation

Mandira’s notes: The egg yolk in this recipe is totally avoidable. In fact the yolk lends an eggey smell to the cheese sticks. Though the baking powder is mentioned as optional, I think it should be added because it makes the biscuits light. Towards the end of the baking time, it makes sense to repeatedly check on the biscuits ,else you run the risk of making them too brown. Please refer to picture below to know what over done biscuits look like! If you like, you could reduce the cheese quantity a bit- I love cheese, so I would never do that, but if you like it less cheesy, knock of 5-10 gms of cheese.

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Black currant-choco chip cookies

Another shortbread cookie.  A twist on the  original cuban shortbread cookies  with black currants and  chocolate chips thrown in.

Ingredients:

  • Maida 60 gms
  • Butter 30 gms
  • Sugar 15 gms
  • Vanilla essence a few drops
  • Black currant 1- 1½ tbsp
  • Choco chips 1-1 ½  tbsp
  • Baking powder   ½ tsp
  • Milk to bind

Method:

  • Mix together the maida and the baking powder.
  • Rub in the butter till the flour begins resembling bread crumbs.
  • Add the black currant,choco chips and essence and mix well.
  • Use milk to bind together.
  • Use the dought to form any shape you like and place the cookies on a well greased over tray and bake for 10-15 min.s at 180 deg.C.

Source:  With the cuban cookies turning out as well as they did, I used the basic dough with a variety of additions to get new cookie.

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Mandira’s notes: I like shortbreads. They are very easy to put together and taste good. Once we know how to make the basic shortbread, you can alter the flavouring and add as many variations as you like. I used black currant and chocolate chips because I had them at home. There is no hard and fast rule about the proportion of both these ingredients. You can also increase or decrease the quantity of each but please make sure you dont increase their quantity so much that it becomes  difficult to roll and cut the cookies.

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