Nan Khatai / Indian ‘Biskoot’
‘Deepavali’ the festival of lights is a time to share home made sweets packed with a great deal of affection & days of planning ahead.Memories of the “festival chef” as they were called then, coming home days ahead to make loads of sweets & savories to be distributed to the neighbors & friends, pleasantly flavored my thoughts,as I drove home from work.No such genie’s around,said my tired mind, yet the will to keep the tradition alive burnt deep inside like the Deepavali lamps,so decided to make this quick yet yummy sweet which has it’s origins from the major port city of western India called Surat. History states that an Indian baker was given the reins of running the Dutch bakery as the Dutch left India.This sweet was born out of necessity to keep the bakery going in those times, some say it also might have a Persian on Chinese origin, since all these countries traded with India for the spices.
Cardamom Chocolate short bread would be an apt name since under the British influence it was a tea time snack, yet the Hindu tradition did not allow the use of eggs or the palm toddy hence it was popularly called ‘Biskoot’ by the Indian population who stored them in air tight containers for later use.
This ‘Biskoot’ tradition is fast disappearing to be replaced with the dunkin’ Oreos or the constipation curing ‘phoren’ conglomerates, yet the need to hold on to the richness of what the motherland has to offer is in each one of us, who were nurtured in her lap & what better day to share this feeling than festival days like these, when the whole country is immersed in celebration of it’s rich heritage, ushering in light & love so I added a touch of cocoa ( the chocolate has to be there, when love is predominant wink emoticon ) to the traditional mix & Lo! & behold I was still in time to offer home made sweets to the Divine in my altar before sharing it with loved ones.
All purpose flour/Maida- 1 1/2 cup
Gram flour/Besan – 1/4 cup
Baking soda- 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg powder- 1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp
Ghee- 1/2 cup
Brown sugar- 3/4 cup
Yogurt/curds- 2 tbsp
1.Use a hand mixer to mix the ghee & sugar into a creamy paste.Set aside.
2.Mix all the dry ingredients together & gently pour into the sugary mix & knead it with your fingers, after adding the yogurt.
3.Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until it’s evenly smooth , then make small round balls with little amount of dough, gently pressing them between your palms so they stay thick in the center & thinner on the edges.
4.For the swirl version with cocoa, I took a small portion from the dough & added a tablespoon of cocoa to make a smooth mix & then rolled separate doughs into small tubes side by side in the ratio of 1:3 ( chocolate/plain dough) & then braided them together & rolled them in my hands to create those beautiful swirl patterns.
5.Preheat oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes before placing the greased cookie sheet containing the Nan Khatai’s. Wait for 20 minutes when they start turning golden brown, remove from oven & set on a cooling rack.When they are sufficiently cooled down, serve it to friends & family cherishing the light within.
Happy Deepavali !