Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chocolate Nankhatai

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It was a busy last weekend. After weeks of delay due to rains, and laziness, I finally managed to get to the Walled City (Chandni Chowk and around) to sample the foodie fare available. And I did it 2 days in a row. With 65 places marked for me to try out, it is going to take me a few more trips. And when I finally complete the list the post (or posts on Old Delhi food) is going to be one amazing read. You need to keep watching this space, so that you don't miss when it does appear. Now I knew the regular items (read chaat, kachori, kababs) that I will eat in the bylanes of Chandni Chowk, Nai Sarak etc., and some exotic food like Japani Samosas, Kullas that I will try out for the first time, what I wasn't expecting and came as a pleasant surprise was a vendor hawking Nankhatai's.

Now nankhatai's are Indian eggless cookies and the real easy ones at that. History points to Dutch colonizers of 16th Century with inventing the nankhatai and it was popularized by the Parsis who took over the bakeries started by the Dutch in Surat, Gujarat. Over time the nankhatai found their way to the streets in Delhi and from there to many a heart (and stomach). One early morning trip to eat the Nihari and I came across one of the hawkers preparing the nankhatai's on their very carts. Since it does not call for many ingredients, the hawker very easily makes the dough and cuts them into circles. He adds them to a round tray (which from far makes it look like a idli tray) and sets the tray in his oven made with hot coals. He covers the oven with his heavy skillet and waits for the nankhatai's to cook (or rather bake).

Going for Rs. 2.50 they are a steal and melt in your mouth. An ideal sweet after a heavy meal, when you crave for something sweet but not too heavy.
As I ate my nankhatai, I remembered my days in BTK (that is Basic Training Kitchen) in 1st Year Hotel Management, making my first batch of nankhatai's. It was almost 20 years and I had to get down making these lovely cookies. Though, I instinctively should have either reached for my 1st year recipe book (I have it somewhere in my pile of books) or gone the way the roadside hawkers do ( they use gramflour, flour, semolina, khoya, cardamom powder, sugar, soda bi-carb, baking powder and desi ghee), I decided to experiment a little. Since it is mandatory for all cookies to have chocolate in our house (my younger one insists), and my better half had tried the regular version a day earlier, I made Chocolate nankhatai's. I made them a little bigger (more appealing to a kid ...have one and don't come back for the second) and also used a little cinnamon (just a wee bit). The regular recipe and regular sized nankhatai will have to wait for another day ..and another post.

Chocolate Nankhatai
(Makes 16 cookies)

Flour - 155 gm
Ghee (Clarified Butter) - 130 gm
Sugar, powdered - 150 gm
Cocoa Powder - 5 gm
Semolina - 5 gm
Soda Bi-Carb - 1 Tsp.
Cinnamon - 1 Tsp

1. Cream the sugar and ghee until well blended.
2. Sift the flour with the Semolina, Cocoa Powder, Soda Bi-Carb and Cinnamon.
3. Add this dry mixture to the creamed ghee mixture.
4. Knead into a dough.
5. Divide into 16 balls.
6. Flatten each ball a little and place on a cookie sheet. Keep some distance between the cookies.
7. Bake the nankhatai's at 180 for 35 minutes.
8. Switch off the oven and let them cool in the oven for an hour.
9. Store in an airtight container.


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