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Before I begin with this post, there is something that I wish to share with all my readers and visitors. Something which a few of the bloggers might have experienced already and some are perhaps likely to experience at some point during their blogging ‘career’. It is not uncommon for companies to send their products to bloggers so that they can use it and share their experience, pleasant or otherwise, regarding the product with their readers. But there are certain very sly smart companies who very cleverly try to rope in gullible bloggers and use their blog & reputation (that the bloggers have built over a period of time with immense hard work) as a platform to advertise and promote their product/ maximize their audience, giving a raw deal to the blogger in return. Read on further if you wish to know how, else head straight to the recipe.

A few days back I got a call from this lady who handles the account of a European kitchen appliances brand trying to make a foothold in the India market. Through her email she explained that the brand has a complete kitchen set-up at most of its experience studios across difference cities in India. She asked me if I would be interested to shoot a video of one or more of my recipes at their studio and share the same with my readers at the blog; there were other bloggers, in various cities, who were also being roped in. The next line said that there would be no costs involved in utilizing the facilities at the studio and what the company basically looked forward to was a mention of my experience with their product that I would be using during that exercise. “Sure!” I said in confirmation.

She requested me for my contact number to further discuss the details. And that’s where, the interesting part begins. Over the phone I learnt, that I was expected to bear the cost of bringing in my own guy to shoot the so called video and along with my own ingredients besides other things. That’s when I learnt what the phrase ‘no costs involved’ meant. It meant NO costs involved for the company. I was to commute all the way, 30 odd kilometers from my house, carrying my own stuff to shoot my own video and then I was expected to put up that video telling the world what a wonderful experience I had at their studio! You’ve got to be kidding babe.

I couldn’t help asking her, “What was I putting in so much effort and hard work for?” The answer, “It is like barter. You get free venue to do the shoot which generally costs money and we get visibility in front of your audience”, making it sound as if the company was doing me a special favour by providing me the space to shoot a video. (If I were to shoot a video of my post, I could have done it long time back) Honestly, I didn’t mind doing even the shoot had they provided at least someone professional to shoot the video. Most bloggers do not blog for money and obviously I wasn’t fishing for any monetary compensation or commission. But I do not appreciate this crafty stroke of an ‘all expenses borne by the blogger’ kind of stuff. And now this whole thing was getting on my nerves, “Why should I choose this barter proposal when I can shoot the video at my own house since I have my own set up, a decent camera, accessories, bake-ware, props, oven, blender, etc. Why would I travel all the way to your studio to do what I can very well do in the comfort and familiar environs of my house? Just to use that oven of yours or perhaps that blender?” Thanks but no thanks. That’s not how I like to work with people. I appreciate a fair deal; one where I am not being ‘used’.

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To get rid of that bitter after-taste, post this unpleasant experience, I headed straight to the kitchen – my catharsis zone. With autumn trying to settle itself in, Nan Khatai was the obvious choice to bake some cookies. Their comforting taste was what I needed to settle my mind. Nan khatai has got to do nothing with Naan bread. These are very simple Indian style eggless shortbread cookies with a nutty crumbly texture. It is a pretty common site to find road side vendors, especially in the north of India, selling these freshly baked cookies. They bake them in a humble broad and rustic pan covered with a lid and fired by a small open oven or tandoor.  Although the end result is amazing but theirs’ are mostly overtly sweet and that sucrose hit really puts me off. That’s why instead of conveniently buying them, I prefer baking my own once in a while. I vehemently recommend you to try these in your kitchen…different flours give it a beautiful character which is crumbly yet crunchy, rich and nutty (since I added almond meal) and that warm flavors of saffron are to die for. And if that isn’t enough, the aromas that will waft through your kitchen, while the cookies bake, will compel you to bake it again and again… Perfect for autumn and winter baking.

Here is what you would need to make these cookies…

½ C Ghee

1 C scant, powdered Sugar (adjust to taste. I prefer mine a tad less sweet than normal)

1½ tsp Yogurt (beaten smooth)

A pinch of salt

1 C Maida (APF)

½ C Besan (Chick Pea Flour)

¼ C Suji (Semolina)

¼ C powdered Badaam (Almond meal)

¼ tsp Baking Soda (Bi-carb)

2 tsp Cardamom Powder

Few sliced almonds or pistachio

1/8 tsp saffron

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Preheat the oven at 150 degrees C.

Sift together the flours along with baking soda and set aside.

Whip together the ghee, sugar and crushed saffron till soft and fluffy. Add the salt and curd and whip again. Now add the flours and mix them with a spatula and then knead lightly.

Divide the dough in equal portion and pinch off small balls. If you are not able to make them into balls, keep squeezing the dough inside your fist just like you do when making laddus &  and then gradually begin turning them into balls. Ensure that the balls are smooth and there are no cracks else the cracks (if any) will widen upon baking. Flatten them slightly and sprinkle the cardamom powder over in the center. Give shallow cross cuts. Or instead of using cardamom powder, gently press over the chopped almonds or chopped pistachio. Space out the cookies on a baking sheet and bake till the edges turn golden (approximately 16-18 minutes).

Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool in the baking tray. Transfer them gently to the wire rack to cool completely. Store them in an air tight jar. They keep well for over a week at room temperature.

Yield: Approximately 2 dozens

Note: I used icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) instead of making the powder sugar at home.

Note: It is very important that the ghee be at room temperature and softened. Mine was in soft granular form since it was home-made and the weather here is pretty warm.

Note: I believe you can play around with the ratio of the flours to suit your taste. This is the ideal ratio that my family likes.

Note: To reduce the amount of ghee, I added almond meal to these cookies. Feel free to eliminate it and swap it with the APF or chick pea flour and increase the amount of ghee by 2-3 tbsp.

My saffron love…

Zaafrani Murg Tikka (Saffron Chicken Tikka)

Bakarkhani (Saffron infused Flatbread)

Kesari Kheer (Saffron Rice Pudding)

Petha Halwa (Spiced Pumpkin Halwa)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

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Linked to Weekend Social Party. This post got featured at the Weekend Social Party as the most viewed recipe of that week by fellow bloggers. Thanks alot everyone .