Crisp and crumbly on the outside with a slight chewiness in the middle, these buttery cookies are delicately flavoured with saffron and cardamom.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (gas mark 3) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the sugar and ghee in a bowl and use a whisk to cream them together for 2–3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the oil and whisk for a further 40 seconds.
Place the saffron threads in a small frying pan on a very low heat and warm through, taking care as the strands burn easily. When slightly crisp, crush with the back of a spoon and add to the creamed mixture with the ground cardamom to give both aromatic and sweet spicy flavour.
Add the semolina and ground almonds to provide a crunchy and crisp texture and the chickpea flour for a slight nutty taste. Add the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to add a little rise and some cracks on top of the shortbread during baking – that’s when you know you have a good Nan Khatai. Finally, add just enough flour to make a soft and pliable dough.
Roll the dough into small balls, about 3.5cm across, and place on the prepared baking tray, spacing them a little apart as they do spread during baking. Decorate them with glacé cherries, chopped almonds, pistachios or dried rose petals, then cook in the oven for 12 minutes. They will crack slightly on top as they bake and turn lightly golden.
Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to firm up slightly, then cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 2–3 weeks.
Nan khatai is a traditional Indian shortbread and my absolute fave! When I was growing up, my mum would make a huge batch of these for Eid – the aroma of freshly baked Nan Khatai would fill the house.
The name comes from the Persian word naan, which means ‘bread’, and khatai which means ‘light and flaky’.
Typically made with ghee, flour, sugar and cardamom, these are crisp and crumbly on the outside with a slight chewiness in the middle. A perfect sweet treat for special occasions.
This Saffron Nan Khatai recipe is extracted from The Ramadan Cookbook by Anisa Karolia and photography by Ellis Parrinder (Ebury Press).