NANKHATAI / नानखताई (Traditional Indian Shortbread Cookies)

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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 .

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26 Comments

  1. My mum tells me stories about how she used to eat these as a little kid 😀
    I want to make them for her now, what a great recipe!
    WOW seriously they said that? Sounds so smug and trying to be clever, glad you rejected their offer! Good for you 🙂

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this information. In the past I was used and every time I think about it I get angry. I got so angry I took the post down after 8 weeks. Good for you for standing up and telling them that the only favours being done are for them.

    I’d need several of those shortbread cookies to feel better. 🙂

  3. I am glad somebody finally let’s it out or I would have had to do it. Companies and PRs have such balls here at times, I just don’t understand why they are doing this. If they would do it the right, correct, fair way, we could work wonderfully together and they would gain so much out of it. A fair deal, that’s it – it’s just common sense.

    I want the Nankhatai!!

  4. Hi Aruna ,
    Glad to read your experience with these PR Traders. I do get a lot of emails from very popular websites too Like Sulekha asking if they could use my images to promote their website. The moment I said , I need a monetary benefit in return for my images, they decide to end the whole conversation with just posting an interview.. I sometimes fail to understand , how can they assume, WE ( us bloggers) can offer our effort for Free..
    Anyways!! your pictures are an eye candy past this bitter experience.. Would love to connect with your space !!!

    see you in the blog run !!

    Cheers
    Sandhya

  5. I think cooking and baking is the best remedy for everything! I haven’t experienced something so rude and baldfaced as this that happened to you, but I sure have my stake in people who tried to take advantage of me and my blog. It is sad and made me angry and then I did exactly what you did. Went straight to my kitchen and created. At least something good came out of the bad. the shortbread cookies look absolutely fantastic

  6. Good for you sticking up for yourself like that!!!! I always head straight to the kitchen as well when I am excited or upset. These cookies sound delicious, never had anything like this before. Will be making for sure……..

  7. Imagine how those people would market themselves! If something is broken, they’ll say – you are in luck! you are getting a broken piece!

    Nice way to get rid of the memories of the unpleasant experience….Nan Khatai looks fab!

  8. Initially when I started receiving emails from sponsors, I used to feel so great and float on cloud 9. But I guess it came to a point they couldn’t push me. Now, I am really careful. Like you said, we do all the work and what is the returns? No, no, I am talking about money either but what for?

    There’s also something about receiving products and writing. At times, I can’t bluff my way through because I don’t like what I have tested. So, I just leave it as it is.

    These cookies are simply inviting, perfect for the coming festive season, much loved because you know what, that typical Indian in me, just love anything with ghee and cardamom.

  9. Your post was an interesting read! I keep receiving mails from many “God knows whom” but I prefer to just ignore them. My blog is my private space and I wish to keep it so… People can get really “over”smart you see… 🙂 These nankhatais look delicious, what I like more is that there are all sorts of flavorts from different flours in it… yum…

  10. Good that you gave them a fitting reply Taruna,few days back a lady pinged me through face book and all she desperately wanted was my phone number,she said you don’t have to do anything just allow us to use your images and you will be benefited,when I told her I cannot give my phone number just email me whatever you want she went in mute mode.Sorry for the long comment,just venting.

    cookie pictures are an eye candy 🙂

  11. Are they crazy? Doesn’t sound like equal benefits to me! Glad you were sharp enough to catch on to their game.
    P.S. Your cookies look outstanding!! So beautiful.

  12. Well said!!! Now a days people use all kinds of marketing strategy to pull you in. I am glad you caught that on time.
    Nan Khatai looks perfect and beautiful clicks!! I too made Nan Khatai a week ago, but never got to take pictures, they were all gone. I have to make another batch for picture now 🙂

  13. Once in a while I get emails requesting products to be placed in my blog, and always feel skeptical about it…unless it is something that I use and enjoy I would never ever use my blog as a tool to sell products that I do not use…somehow I like to keep my blog “clean”.
    Now, these cookies look awesome, so delicate and elegant…and can only imagine having a bite and feeling them melting away…yum!
    Have a nice week 😀

  14. Omg what a horrible experience! I’m glad you got out before you were taken advantage of.
    I’ve never seen nan khatai with yogurt in it! These look wonderful!

  15. Yes, I can relate! I was approached recently by a rather large company here who approached me to talk to them about business opportunities with the company. I agree to a face-to-face meeting only to find out that they wanted me to blog to do a product post every month with a product off the shelf and promote the store. When I asked what was in it for me she said, Well, you have the “chance” to be featured in a monthly newsletter! Right! No thanks! Well, we learn do we. 🙂 I love the way you got rid of that nasty taste. I could have used a few of these cookies after my visit too! These look like they’d melt in your mouth!

  16. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs
    I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to
    read through articles from other authors and practice a little something from other
    web sites.

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