Nan khatai are cardamom flavored shortbread style biscuits or cookies from India and Pakistan. Made with ghee, flour, chickpea flour (besan) and almonds, they have a buttery melt in the mouth flavor and light crumbly texture. Perfect with a cup of chai. This particular recipe is based on the Khalifa style nan khatai from Pakistan.
What is nan khatai?
Nan khatai, naan khatai, or nankhatai are cardamom flavored biscuits from the Indian sub-continent popular in both India and Pakistan. The texture of the biscuits is similar to shortbread with a buttery melt in the mouth crumbliness. In spite of that buttery flavor, nan khatai are traditionally made with ghee (clarified butter). The word nan khatai is derived from the Persian word ‘naan’ meaning bread, and the word ‘khatai’ which means biscuit.
What is the difference between regular nan khatai and khalifa style nan khatai?
The khalifa style nan khatai is made at Khalifa Bakers, a bakery in interior Lahore, Pakistan. The nan khatai of this bakery are so good that whenever I would go to Lahore, I would get requests from friends and family to bring the nan khatai back with me.
The traditional nan khatai has a white-ish color and is circular in shape. It is sometimes plain, and it sometimes has a whole almond right in the center. The khalifa nan khatai has a flat shape, similar to a biscuit with a beautiful golden-brown top. There is no whole almond on top, but instead there are lots of chunks of almonds throughout the nan khatai, and sometimes on top as well. It’s got the signature nan khatai buttery crumbliness combined with crunchy almonds, and a crispy top. The recipe I am sharing is a cross between a traditional nan khatai recipe, and the khalifa nan khatai. The recipe has been adapted from Munira Kamal’s recipe that she shared on her Facebook page here.
Nan Khatai – the ingredients:
- Flour: Regular all-purpose flour (or maida) is used in this recipe. If you want to make the nan khatai gluten free, you can use a gluten free flour.
- Chickpea flour (besan): Also known as gram flour or besan, this is a key ingredient in nan khatai. It adds a slight nutty flavor to the nan khatai, and also contributes to the pale-yellow color of the nan khatai.
- Finely ground sugar: This is a measure and mix cookie recipe, which means the ingredients are just mixed together with a wooden spoon or spatula. That’s why it’s important to use finely ground sugar as it would dissolve into the ghee (clarified butter) easily. If regular sugar is used, it won’t dissolve properly and you will taste the sugar when eating the cookies. I pulse regular sugar 2 – 3 times in a spice grinder till it turns into a fine powder, and then use it. You can also use finely ground sugar or caster sugar. If you use powdered sugar, you will need to increase the quantity.
- Ghee (clarified butter): Traditional nan khatai is always made with ghee (or clarified butter). It adds an aroma and flavor to the nan khatai. The texture of ghee at room temperature is semi-solid, and this contributes to the crispness and flakiness of the nan khatai.
- Cardamom: Cardamom is an integral ingredient in desserts from India and Pakistan. I use a mix of fresh cardamom seeds that I grind in a mortar and pestle, along with cardamom powder. Fresh cardamom seeds are more aromatic and flavorful, but it is possible to use just cardamom powder as well.
- Egg yolk: There is no egg in the nan khatai dough, however, nan khatai are sometimes brushed with egg or egg yolk to give it a beautiful golden top. In this particular recipe, I have used egg yolk as that gives a richer and more golden color. If you can’t have eggs, you can skip this step.
- Roasted, and crushed almonds: Roasting almonds deepens their flavor, making them taste even more nutty and complex. That’s why I roast and crush the almonds, and then mix them through the nan khatai dough for the best flavor.
- Nuts, for garnishing: I like to garnish the nan khatai multiple ways as that makes the entire platter look super pretty. I use whole almonds, crushed almonds, crushed pistachios, and a mix of crushed almonds and pistachios.
If you are looking for other biscuit / cookie recipes, do try out the following:
- Lemon and Cardamom Shortbread
- Caramel Chocolate Brownies
- Puff Pastry Palmiers
- Salted Caramel Melting Moments
- Coconut Macaroon
- and if you want to learn how to make a cookie box for Eid (or any other holiday), check out my post here
Would love it if you could try out and rate the recipe, and let me know how it was in the comments below!
Nan Khatai (Khalifa style) | Cardamom flavored shortbread biscuits
- 1 ½ cups / 190g all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoon / 60g chickpea flour / besan
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ cup / 150g sugar finely ground – see note 1
- ½ cup / 80g almonds roasted and crushed
- 6 cardamom pods husk removed, and seeds crushed into powder
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- ¾ cup / 190g ghee clarified butter
- 1 egg yolk whisked
- Whole almonds crushed almonds, and crushed pistachios, for garnish
Pre-heat oven to 180°C/ 350°F (160°C fan forced).
Separate the cardamom pod husks from the seeds. Crush the seeds into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle.
Dry roast the almonds in a small frying pan till light golden brown. Let them cool, and then roughly crush in a mortar and pestle or a manual nut grinder.
Place the flour, chickpea flour (besan), baking soda, baking powder, finely ground sugar, roasted and crushed almonds, ground cardamom seeds, and cardamom powder in a bowl. Mix well.
Add the ghee (clarified butter) and mix well. The dough will first be crumbly and then come together into a rough ball. I prefer to use a rubber spatula in the beginning, and once the ghee (clarified butter) is mixed through, I use my hands to gather the dough into a ball. The dough does not need to be kneaded.
Use a cookie scoop or your hands to scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the dough, and then roll into a ball. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, making sure that there is about 1 ½ inch space between each nan khatai. Brush the tops of the nan khatai with the whisked egg yolk.
Garnish with almonds, and/or pistachios. You can either put a whole almond, or crushed almonds, or crushed pistachios, or a mix of crushed pistachios and almonds. Press the nuts a little so that they press into the dough. It is also possible to bake them plain and skip the garnish.
Bake the cookies for about 12 – 15 minutes, until edges are firm and the top is light golden. Place on a baking tray, and cool completely. The cookies will be a little soft when they come out of the oven, but they will harden in few minutes.
This recipe makes 22 – 24 nan khatai. Calories are based on a serving size of 1 nan khatai per person.
1. It’s important to use finely ground sugar as it would dissolve into the ghee (clarified butter) easily. I pulse regular sugar 2 – 3 times in a spice grinder till it turns into a fine powder, and then use it. You can also use finely ground sugar or caster sugar. If you use powdered sugar, you will need to increase the quantity.