Monday, December 27, 2010

Nan Khatai, the Great Indian Holiday Cookie.

    Okay, today is the day everyone is in Muffcake world. For those of you who don't know what the intriguingly named Muffcake is, it is the unholy marriage of the cupcake and the muffin. Think on that awhile. I just happen to absolutley love the name. I was supposed to participate in the making of muffcakes too but the holidays kind of got away from me which is a polite euphemism for "Late Nights" and "Partying" the idea of Muffcakes just slipped out the back door of my head and was long gone as they say, like a turkey through the corn ...or something through a goose or whatever.
   Besides I was all caught up with my salt-crusted Prime Rib Christmas dinner which was, I might add, insanely good.
  Here I am with my pride and joy before we cut into it's beautiful juicy redness (we like things a bit raw around here) and before Patsy attempted to steal it off the kitchen table where it was being carved. She was caught by my dad so no harm was done. I guess it looked so good you can't blame a girl for trying.
  I woke up this morning and low and behold Muffcakes were everywhere, or almost everywhere courtesy of Salty Seattle The Little Foodie I Am A Feeder and La Vie en Route. So if you want to revel in Muffcakes check them out. I however am offering something entirely different this morning because I couldn't get off my lazy butt and execute my Muffcake Idea, and that is the classic Indian Holiday Cookie Nan Khatai.
  Of course, when one thinks of holiday cookies, India is not the first place that comes to mind. But Boy Howdy, they have an absolute delight of a buttery little cookie that works perfectly for those holiday cookie parties we find ourselves at.
  Nan Khatai is a big favorite in India and Pakistan and whips up incredibly fast. I made a big batch last night in practically no time when we had company. So lazy cookie cravers, this one is for you.

Indian Shortbread Cookies

 Here's what to do:

   Preheat your oven to 355 degrees.
  In a  bowl sift together:
  2 cups of flour
 1/2 cup of fine semolina
 1/4 tsp of baking soda
 Set this aside.
 In a large bowl beat together:
 1 and 1/4 stick of unsalted butter
 2 tbs of  plain yogurt
 1 can 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.
 Mix it all up until it's nice and fluffy.  Add the sifted flour mix to the butter and sugar.
    Knead it with your hands until you have a nice soft dough. You Can add in 4 to 5 Tbs of whole milk while you are kneading if you need extra moisture.
 In a spice grinder mix together 2 Tbs of pistachios and 2 tps. of ground cardamom.
 Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
 Roll the cookie dough into lilttle balls and set them down on the cookie sheet. Make an indentation in each ball with your index finger and fill the indentation with a bit of the ground pistachio and cardamom mixture.
 Bake the cookies in the oven for about 20 minutes.
 Then take them out and cool them on a wire rack.
   Depending on the size of your balls ...ahem, cookie balls ...this recipe can make as many as 3 dozen cookies.
  There are many variations on this recipe. Sometimes the cookies have a crisscross pattern cut in them before baking. Sometimes they are flattened and dusted with almonds and cardamom. Other times they're baked with a single almond half in the center like Chinese almond cookies. I personally would like to fill them with a bit of chutney and I think I'll try that next time, because these little shortbread cookies were so meltingly good, there is definitely going to be a next time.
    I served them with warm chai... Mmmmmmmm delicious. So those are the universal Indian cookie just waiting to be experimented on. As for me, I can't get Muffcakes out of my head I have a recipe I'm thinking of, but as usual, I'm a day late and a muffcake short.


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