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25 December, 2014

Nankhatai: Eggless Indian Biscuits

Comments : 2 Posted in : Appetizers & Snacks on by : Ratna Tags: , , ,

 

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The  Cherub  faced  baby  with  a  wreath  around  his  head  looked  down  on  me.  Holding  hands  with  the  baby  standing  next  to  him  they  formed  a  circle,  in  the  painting  on  the  sky  blue  coloured  biscuit  tin.  The   lid  of  the  tin   had  a  knob  in  the  centre  for  better  grip.  The  tin   was   purposely  kept  on  the  top  rack  in  our  kitchen  cupboard,  behind  the  pickle  jars,  above  the  spice  rack,  well  beyond  our  reach.  “Ebar  Paetey  baytha  hawbe,  dekho”,  You’ll  have  a  tummy  ache,  mind  you!  Ma’s  repeated  warnings  didn’t  have  much  effect  on  us.  C,  our  youngest  sister,  was  given  the  duty  to  keep  an  eye  on  Ma’s  movements.  Assigned  with  such  a  responsible  job   at  the  tender  age  of  six,  she  kept  running  back  and  forth  from  the  kitchen  to  the  verandah  with  a  silly  grin  on  her  face,  almost  foiling  our  attempt.    We  had  studied  Ma’s  schedule  very  carefully,  the  times  that  she  was  away  from  the  kitchen  and  how  long  for.  What  was  the  safest  bet  in  terms  of  the  time  needed  for  us  to  make  the  heist.  The  biscuit  heist.  We  agreed  the  time  after  lunch  would  be  ideal.

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It  was  a  perfect  winter  afternoon.  Ma  and  her  friends   busy  with  their  knitting  projects  on  the   wrap  around   verandah  past  the  living  room.  Sitting  with  their  backs  to  the  sun,  drying  their  long  hairs  draped  over  their  sarees.  Exchanging  new  patterns  for  cardigans,  mittens  or  discussing  remedies  for  the  aphids  in  the  rose  bush  they  would  make  the  best  use  of  the  short  winter  sun.  The  kitchen  with  two  big  windows  was  on  the  far  end  of  the  house  separated  by  the  dining  room  and  the  living  room  with  long  flowing  Chartreuse  green  curtains  in  between.  Bhugli,  our  household  help,  would  be  dusting  the  bedroom  meticulously  at  that  time.  The  bedroom  forked  out  from  the  dining  room  past  a  narrow  corridor  with  the  laundry  racks,  making  it  parallel  to  the  living  room.  With  Baba  at  work  the  timing  couldn’t  have  been  better.

I  stood  on  my  toes,  precariously  balancing  my  body  on  a  wobbly  stool.  B,  my  eight  year  old  sister,  hung on  to  the  stool  with  all  her  might  to  avoid  any  fall.  Only  two  years  younger  than  me,  she  was  my  loyal  partner  in  crime.  Her  curly  black  hair  formed  a  halo  around  her  head  which  was  tilted  back  causing  her  mouth  to  open.  Two  pairs  of  eyes  were  fixed  on  the  biscuit  tin.  We  knew  the  inside  of  the  tin  as  good  as  the  back  of  our  hands.  A  cream  coloured  corrugated  paper  lined  the  inside.  Layers  of  assorted  biscuits,  not  cookies,  lay  separated  with  wax  paper.  Some  were  rectangular  with  curly  edges  and  sugar  dusted  tops.  Others  were  round  one  on  top  of  another  with  a  hole  in  the  middle    showing  the   red  jam  inside.  Then  there  were  sandwich  biscuits  with  sweet  orange  flavoured  cream  in  between.  Unaware  of  their  fancy  names  like  Linzer  or  Thumbprint  cookies,  they  were  all  ‘Cream  Bishcoot’  to  us.

Outside  the  east  facing  window  in  the  kitchen  was  the  Guava  tree.  Its  branches  spreading  all  around  like  an  open  umbrella,  almost  brushing  against  this  window.  The  green  parrots  with  their  sharp  red  beaks  often  frequented  these  branches.  They  came  in  flocks,  ate  some  guavas,  scattered  a  few  around.  They  were  not  bashful  at  all  with  their  habits,  could  be  heard  from  a  distance.    Not  sure  what  happened  first.  There  appeared  a  spider  from  nowhere  in  the  cupboard,  or  was  it  the  parrot  with  its  high  pitched  chirp,  as  if  warning  Ma  about  our  plan.  I  lost  my  balance,  hit  my  sister  on  her  head  breaking  her  front  tooth  with  blood  oozing  from  her  mouth,  her  painful  cry  brought  Ma  running  to  the  kitchen.  Whatever  the  sequence,  it  all happened  very  fast  and  brought  our  carefully  detailed  plan  down  just  like  a   house  of  cards.

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Although  there  were  no  Nankhatais  in  the  tin  I  would  like  to  warn  you  these  melt –  in –  the –  mouth  cookies  would  make  you  feel  like  going  for  more!

Sending  very  warm  holiday  wishes  to  all  of  you  from  the  cold  Prairies.

Recipe:

Adapted  from  Nishamadhulika.com  with  slight  changes.  Made  16  pieces.

Ingredients;

All  purpose  flour                                                       Half  cup

Chickpea  flour  (  Besan  )                                         Half  cup

Ghee                                                                          Half  cup

Powdered  sugar                                                       Half  cup

Baking  powder                                                         One  quarter  tsp

Cardamom  powder                                                 One  quarter  tsp

Pistachio  pieces                                                      About  one  Tbsp  to  garnish

Method;

In  a  bowl  take  ghee  and  sugar  and  mix  thoroughly  until  smooth  and  creamy.  Keep  aside.

In  another  bowl  sieve  the  all  purpose  flour,  Besan,  baking  powder  and  cardamom  powder.  Mix  this  to  the  sugar  mixture,  slowly  and  form  into  a  dough.  If  needed  add  little  bit  of  milk  to  bind.  If  a  bit  sticky  dust  a  bit  of  flour.  Let  this  sit  for  15  to  20  minutes.

Preheat  the  oven  to  390  degrees F.                   .

Form  small  balls  from  the  rested  dough,  about  a  Tbsp  measure  each  and  slightly  flatten  them  with  the  palm  of  your  hands.  Gently  press  a  few  pieces  of  Pistachios  on  top.  You  can  also  do  without  the  nuts.

Bake  at  330  degrees  F  for  15  to  18  minutes.  Take  them  out  of  the  oven  and  cool  them  on  a  wire  rack.

Inside  scoop;

Traditionally  Nankhatais  come  plain.  Garnishing  with  nuts  is  optional.

Baba  is  the  Bengali  word  for  Dad,  Ma  for  Mum.

By  Ratna

2s COMMENTS

2 thoughts on : Nankhatai: Eggless Indian Biscuits

  • December 27, 2014 at 9:05 am

    O hahaha… Talk about a plan gone bad! Hope you had a good holiday!

    • Ratna
      December 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      You bet. Thanks Simone.

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