Nankhatai (Indian Spiced Cookies) for the Holidays and a Food Network UK Feature


I have not been very good at posting anything on this space lately. And your endless emails and messages have made it clear that you are not exactly liking it. After months of crazy, busy schedule, Abhishek got a few weeks off from school and work, so without missing a moment we immediately got into party mode. We are trying to spend as much family time as possible. Doing things that we were waiting to do together for months like taking a long walk, going to the park, watching a late night movie and house hunting and a vacation thrown into the mix.

I am in Mexico right now with the two best people of my life. When you wake up every morning to beauty like this then you sort of want to just stay in the moment and not come out of it. That’s what’s happening with me and so my blog and the whole blogging thing has taken a back seat for now. Hope you will pardon me for that.

Mexico is a beautiful country. So vibrant and colorful on one hand and serene and peaceful on the other. Sitting by the pool, overlooking the ocean and listening to bursting waves while sipping on hot tea has been our daily morning ritual lately. Life is a lot slower here, no one’s running after anything and people take time to know each other. I have been soaking it all in as much as I can in a few short days.

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I will tell you all about it once I am back home but today I am mainly here to wish all you fabulous people a very happy holidays! All set to welcome Santa? Making cookies and baking cakes while humming Christmas carols playing in the background? I and the little one baked some cookies too before leaving home which Food Network UK very kindly featured on their website along with a quick interview of yours truly! You can check in out here.


These are Indian shortbread cookies called Nankhatai. Nankhatai is a simple eggless cookie with butter, flour and sugar as the main ingredients. Some spice is added to give the cookies an extra zing. I used a mixture of besan (gram flour), all purpose flour and semolina (cream of wheat) as base. Black pepper adds warmth to these sweet buttery cookies and a little bit of fruity jam or almond on top gives these thumbprint cookies their last finishing touch. You can use any kind of nut or jam of choice. This holiday season treat Santa with some of these nankhatais and a warm glass of milk or chai if he prefers that!


Ingredients: Yields 30-35 cookies. I made 16 cookies with almonds and 16 thumb print jam cookies.
2 1/2 cups besan (gram flour)
1 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature/softened)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp crushed black pepper
1 tsp bakingpowder
16-18 halved almonds
2 tbsp any fruit jam

Whisk together softened butter and sugar. Beat until its light and pale yellow in colour. Set aside.
In a separate bowl sift together all the flours and also salt, pepper and baking powder. Mix flour mixture into the sugar and butter mixture, little at a time until everything is mixed well together to form soft dough. Knead the dough for a couple minutes to form a smooth big ball. If it’s a little sticky, wrap it in a cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour.
After about half hour take the dough out of the refrigerator and knead again for a couple minutes. The warmth of your hands will soften the butter in the dough slightly.
Now divide the dough into equal parts. With this measurement it should make about 30-35 cookies.
Make smooth balls out of each portion. Because of the butter, the cookies flatten and crack when baked so make sure your dough balls are smooth with no cracks in order to make pretty cookies.
Place dough balls on a lined cookie sheet and bake then at 350deg. F for 20-22 minutes or until the bottom of cookies are golden in color.
Enjoy warm cookies with chai or you can also store them in air tight containers for several weeks.


Happy Holidays everyone! Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!


  1. Popping in to find a fun recipe to do with the kids as we fill up our virtual passports. My youngest picked India last night and who can visit a place even virtually without trying out some authentic cuisine!?!? Thank you for sharing your recipe I hope we can do it justice! πŸ™‚ Peace <3

  2. Some error with sugar quantity in the recipe, there is almost 4 cups of flour and only half cup of sugar. This was worst recipe I tried.
    This is not recipe for Nankatai, dough taste more like shortbread cookies.

  3. Hello,
    We love your recipes, especially when its on Nankhatai.
    These are so delicious.
    I have always looked at your blog for the various pictures and the way you write.Just Love it!
    You have shared some nice information about Nankhatai in this post.
    The points you mentioned are genuine and perfect.
    The content completely describes about the topic you wanted to portray with us.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable post.

    VentairIndia Team

  4. Prerna, your posts are an inspiration. I don’t know what more can be said! I hope you had a lovely holiday season and are having a bountiful start to the new year.

  5. Love nankhatais… it’s been such a long time since I’ve been home and this post brings back so many memories. There was a muslim baker close to our home who used to make the most divine, huge, nankhatais… I used to save up my allowance and go buy them when I was a kid! Already told you on twitter but saying it again here – great pics and congrats on the feature!! Wishing a very happy 2012 to you and yours!

  6. Congrats on your feature Prerna! You are a force to be reckoned with in the blogging world. I hope you enjoyed your time in Mexico and had nice holidays. All the best to you in the New Year!

  7. happy new year, dearest friend- love the recipe and love the fact you’ve taken some time off for yourself – to be with your family. we all need that. love, s

  8. Spending time with family is most important. Enjoy your time. We will be here when you return.

    These spice cookies are beautiful. These would be perfect with my coffee.

    Happy New Year.


  9. Thanks everyone!
    Sorry about the confusion. The last step in the method section mentioning the temperature and time (two keys things) somehow never showed up on the blog. Updated now. Hope that helps!
    Karen- I WANT the recipe for those Mexican cookies. Ate them in Mexico by the recommendation of a fellow blogger and now I want to try making ’em!
    Asiya- I promise to post the low fat version sometime. My mom makes them with yogurt and lesser butter/ghee.

  10. Beautiful pictures….My husband loves Nankhatai but has given up eating them b/c of all the butter…wish there was a low fat version I could make for him….

  11. Prerana,

    Very beautifully presented post on Nankatai.

    I want to let you know that ingredients need to be checked and compared from both site. You have skipped 100gm sugar and butter quantity is different too.

    May I know why you choose to skip cardamom and nutmeg from your recipe, that is the essence of Indian nankatai.

    Hope you publish my comment and check ingredient part. I tried telling on Uk food network but my comment was not published.

  12. So strange Prerna! It seems we were both away on beach vacations, both posted about naan khatai, and both them featured elsewhere during the same week! Yours look beautiful by the way. Hope you had a nice holiday.

  13. Nom nom nom.

    I could eat the whole tray. Love the addition of besan and sooji to these–I’ve been making these with only ap flour, but I just have to try your recipe now. Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday!

  14. Congratulations on the feature Prerna! Your cookies are absolutely gorgeous.

    Enjoy the rest of your holidays with your family. Your vacation sounds wonderful, and very well deserved.

    Happy holidays!

  15. Prerna,
    Each country seems to have their version of this cookie. I featured a Mexican Wedding Cake on the recent GFree Ratio Rally that is quite similar. Maybe you will taste some while visiting. Have a glorious trip. A number of years ago we went to the sea of Cortez which looks as heavenly. One word: jealous!

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