Nankhatai Recipe – Delicious, light & crisp eggless cookies made with flour, ghee, cardamom powder and sugar. Nankhatai are traditional Indian shortbread cookies made with all-purpose flour, semolina, sugar and ghee. There are so many variations of nankhatai and can be made with different combinations of flour. In the earlier days most Indian homes did not have an oven so these were baked in stovetop aluminum ovens & cookers. If you do not have an oven, go ahead and bake these in a pressure cooker or a heavy bottom kadai with my tips below.
Nankhatai are shortbread cookies, popular in the Indian Sub-continent. These are made with just refined flour, sugar and ghee or butter. Sometimes cardamoms or saffron are used to flavor them. They are garnished with nuts like pistachios & almonds.
In India, you will find nankhatai in almost every bakery, eatery and even in super markets. They have a melt in the mouth texture and super delicious.
The recipe shared in this post will give you crisp nankhatai that are not only delicious but also have a unique flavor. I make different kinds of cookies often for my kids. These nankhatai are the easiest and make a great snack to pack in the kids’ school box.
I have made the nankhatai in a simple way by just mixing up the dry ingredients and then combining it with ghee to make a dough. Then divide the dough to portions, roll them to balls and then flatten to shape. Later these are baked until golden & crisp.
Here is the ingredient section that will help you make the recipe.
Flour : Traditionally nankhatai were made with all-purpose flour known as maida. However they also turn out good with wheat flour, or a combination of wheat flour and besan (gram flour). For healthier option make these with any whole grain flour. Read my substitute section below.
Fats: This time I have made these nankhatais with ghee but I have made several times with melted butter & oil too. But ghee makes the best crisp nankhatais. If using oil, try using extra virgin coconut oil. I did not feel the flavor of oil in the cookies as I double the amount of cardamom powder.
Sugar: This recipe needs powdered sugar. I powder the sugar in a small grinder. You can also use store bought icing sugar.
Cardamom powder: Nankahtais are flavoured with elaichi, cardamoms. To make cardamom powder, simply blend the cardamoms with sugar in the blender. You can also replace cardamom powder with vanilla or cinnamon if you like the flavours.
The first picture of nankhatai in this post was shared many years ago. These were made with more quantity of besan and little atta. The color of the cookies will depend on the combination of flour.
How to Make Nankhatai (Stepwise Photos)
1. Add wheat flour or maida to a mixing bowl.
2. Add besan or gram flour. You can substitute besan with maida or any nut meal or even with atta. But besan lends a good aroma to the nankhatai.
3. Next add sooji. It gives a light crunch. You can skip this completely and reduce a tbsp ghee in the recipe. You can also replace sooji with any nut meal. I used chiroti rava here but regular sooji works too.
4. Add cardamom powder and baking powder or baking soda. You can skip the baking powder or baking soda if using maida. But with atta they turn out too dense if you skip the leavening agent.
If you do not have cardamom powder, you can add some cardamom pods to the sugar and the powder them.
5. Add powdered sugar. Measure half cup powder and not the sugar.
6. Mix all of them well together. Ensure all the ingredients have combined well especially the baking powder.
7. Measure 1/3 cup ghee and pour it in 3 parts. Mix well to make a dough adding more ghee as needed.
8. The nankhatai dough should not be dry or crumbly but must bind together well. Do not knead it just bring the flour together with the help of ghee.
Shape & Bake Nankhatai
9. Divide the mixture to 12 portions and roll to smooth balls. If the mixture is dry and crumbly it means you need more ghee. Just add a tsp of it and mix.
10. Flatten the balls and place them on the tray. You can make some design with the help of a fork or a skewer. I also garnished the nankhatai with some chopped pistachios. They usually get browned so you can also skip them.
11. Ensure your own is preheated for at least 15 mins at 180 C or 350 F. Bake them at 180 C or 350 F for 10 mins. When done the nankhatai will be golden and almost dry on the top.
12. Immediately remove to a wire rack and cool them completely. They will continue to brown at the bottom if you leave them in the hot tray.
Store nankhatai in a air tight steel or glass jar. They keep good for 2 to 3 weeks at room temperature.
These are besan nankhatai made with 3/4 cup besan and 1/4 cup atta.
Besan : I always prefer besan or gram flour in nankhatai as it really elevates the flavor of the cookies. The aroma of the baked besan is unique and cannot be got by substituting it with any other ingredient.
However if you do not want to use it just replace with any nut powder, all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour. The same amount of almond meal works well in this recipe.
Semolina or rava (suji) : The recipe uses 1 tbsp of fine semolina just to add a crunch to the nankhatai. I personally prefer the chiroti rava for this recipe.
Substitute it with the same amount of nut meal or flour. You can also just skip it and reduce 1 tbsp of ghee in the recipe.
Best combination of flour
¾ cup atta or maida, ¼ cup besan & 1 tbsp of semolina is what I have used in this recipe. You can also alter this proportions but the texture is not the same.
Make Nankhatai without Oven
If you do not own a oven, you can also make these in a heavy bottom pan or pressure cooker.
Fill 1 inch of the cooker or pan base with crystal salt and then place a trivet or a ring or some stand. Preheat it well until hot for 10 to 15 mins.
Place the nankhatai on a plate and keep it on the stand/trivet. Ensure the cookies are in the center of the cooker (heightwise). Remove the gasket and close the lid. Bake on a low flame. Keep checking after 10 mins.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ¾ Cup wheat flour (or all-purpose flour – 75 grams)
- ¼ Cup besan (gram flour – 25 grams)
- 1 tablespoon semolina suji (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder or 1 pinch baking soda
- 3 green cardamoms powdered or ½ tsp powder
- ½ Cup powdered sugar (65 grams)
- ⅓ Cup ghee or soft butter (75 grams) (use only as needed)
- Preheat the oven to 360 F or 80 C at least for 15 mins.
- Prepare a tray with parchment paper. Powder sugar along with cardamom seeds.
- Sieve the flours, semolina, sugar and baking soda together. Set this aside.
- You can also just mix up all of them together and skip sieving. Ensure the baking powder is mixed well.
How to Make Nankhatai
- Pour ghee in parts and bring the flour together to make a stiff dough.
- Use ghee only as needed for mixing. You may need a tsp more or less depending on the temperature where you live. Do not knead the dough.
- Make 12 balls out of the dough. Slightly flatten and press with a fork lightly to make a design.
- Bake exactly for 10 mins. Or until light golden and crisp. The timing may vary depending on many factors – size of your oven, kind of the tray etc.
- Remove to a wire rack immediately. Cool the nankhatai completely and store in an airtight jar. They keep good for 3 weeks.
- Enjoy nankhatai as a snack with milk or tea.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Nankhatai recipe First published in Dec 2012. Updated & Republished in October 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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