Today is the 4th day of Diwali. Balipratipada. This is the day to seek the good in everyone, including those you don't particularly care for. I love the symbolism of Diwali. It's a warm fuzzy feeling!
This Diwali has been extra special because I found that special recipe I was looking for all these years. The Nankatai recipe.
There was much discourse between my husband and I, between my sister and my husband and finally my sister and I. I insisted that in Marathi, it is nankatai. They talked, burning international lines, efficiency of the conversation no longer in question, about how I had no clue and it was all the fault of that British convent school I studied in. My sister was at that school, too, but she suffered only two years of it while I was there much longer. It took its toll on me, they laughed, that I don't know the difference between ka and kha. I grabbed the phone and insisted that it is nankatai, only to be told that it has a lot of ghee in it, which might help oil the failing machinery. My mother came to my rescue. She has not one but two recipes for Nankatai, written in Marathi. If you're wondering why I went with nankhatai in my previous post, I didn't think of looking in my mother's diary for proof!
Feel free to call them nankhatai, because that is what most of the rest of India does. But in my home, they are nankatai.
So here they are, golden powdery ghee-laden Indian cookies, nankatai.
- 1.25 cups ghee
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar, powdered
- 2.5 cups maida (or all-purpose flour)
- 1/8 cup besan
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tsp dried ginger powder
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C)
- Warm the ghee in a kadhai till it is completely molten and is a lovely golden color. Make sure you do not warm it beyond this point.
- Take it off the stove and mix in the baking powder. (I do not know why it is added at this point and not with the flours; I am still trying to figure out why)
- Add the powdered sugar and stir till it is completely dissolved.
- Add the flours and the powdered spices and stir well.
- Then knead the buttery dough with your hand (now you know why the ghee should not be too hot!) until it can all be brought together into a large ball. Then knead it some more for a few more minutes.
- Then shape into orbs that are about as big as a dollar coin and flatten slightly. The balls should not have any cracks at this point. If they do, you either need more dough in each ball or you are flattening them way too much.
- Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 14 minutes or until the nankatai are a gorgeous pale gold color on top and a darker golden color on the bottom. (Remember that I am over a mile high in altitude and your bake time might be less than 14 minutes.)
- Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. If you try to yank them off immediately, you might lose some of that delicious bottom crust.
- Resist the urge to try them right away unless you want to hear your tongue sizzle. Believe me when I tell you that it hurts! And you can't taste anything anyway, so you might as well wait!
- Brew a cup of tea and either dunk these and enjoy them that way or just bite into the powdery delectable goodness and float away into that special place that is Mom.
- My Mom's recipe does not say anything about kneading the dough. This was based on the advice I got from gingerly after the first recipe failed.
- Feel free to experiment with the proportion of powdered spices. There were no measurements in my mother's recipe. So I played with the amounts till the dough tasted right. The next time though, I will add more dried ginger powder as I love the flavor it imparts. The nice thing about this dough is that you can taste it as you go along since it has no eggs. Um, don't tell anyone but I taste homemade batter that has eggs in it!
- Besan gives it a slightly nutty flavor, without it being overpowering or tasting like besan ladu
I am sending this to Vee for the Jihva Special Editon : The Festive Series.
Update: I am also sending this to Susan of Food Blogga for her Eat Christmas Cookies event. Nankatai is a holiday cookie, after all!