Nan khatai is a delicately spiced butter biscuit that originates in India. I've been eating these biscuits since I was a kid. They were made often in my household, particularly during Diwali (Indian festival of lights) where my mum would give them, along with other treats, as gifts to friends and relatives. They are quick to whip up and can easily become addictive!
Unlike shortbread biscuits which have a dense crumb, these biscuits are light and airy. Every bite lends a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, rich buttery taste. They literally melt in your mouth. People often decorate the tops of the biscuits with almonds which makes it look nicer and adds texture. I chose to leave that out today, but feel free to top your biscuits which some chopped nuts of your choice before baking.
This recipe is fairly simple and uses ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. The odd ingredient that is not often found in biscuits is baking soda. It's this little bit of leavening agent that gives the biscuit it's light airiness, so make sure not to leave that out. The biscuits won't taste like baking soda, I promise.
If you are vegan, or dairy intolerant, you have the option of making this with vegan butter or margarine. They will taste just as good. Feel free to add more spice if you're a fan of spices. I wouldn't recommend more than double the amount though, as it will probably be too strong.
This recipe is older than I am and has been handed down to me from my mother. It seems only fitting that I share her wisdom with you as well. Mum would always say that you know a good nan khatai when it's cracked on the surface. So if you've got some cracks on your biscuit and it's still pale with a golden edge when you remove it from the oven, you know you've done it right!
Makes 20 large biscuits, or 40 small biscuits
125g butter, softened (vegan butter or margarine also works)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 180 C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add cardamom, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until combined.
Add some of your flour to the mixture and mix in, then add some of your oil to the mixture and mix once more. Continue this process until you have mixed in all the flour and oil. As you do this you will slowly see a soft dough coming together. The dough will be much softer than regular cookie dough.
Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon scoop the dough and place on your lined baking sheet. Flatten your dough balls to standard biscuit thickness. These biscuits spread when baking in the oven so ensure you have left enough space between them on your baking sheets.
Place in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. The cookies should still be pale in colour with a slight browning around the rim when you remove them. They will still be quite soft when they come out of the oven but they will harden when they cool. Allow to cool on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container.