The fading delight
Nankhatai is to the Parsi what Osmania Biscuit is to the Hyderabadi. The popular teatime biscuit dunked in hot Irani chai is famous in Mumbai and...
Chef Akshata Karkaria, who is a self-taught hobby chef and now the Bakery and R&D Chef was in Hyderabad to demonstrate the most homely and welcoming version of Nankhatai
Nankhatai is to the Parsi what Osmania Biscuit is to the Hyderabadi. The popular teatime biscuit dunked in hot Irani chai is famous in Mumbai and other Parsi settlements of the country. The recipe has also been absorbed into the cultural fabric of many other parts of India, thus making it legendary.
However, the very fact that it is not famously sold, and much less spoken about, makes this another great food that has entered the list of ‘dying foods’ in India. Chef Akshata Karkaria, who is a self-taught hobby chef and now the Bakery and R&D Chef at SodaBottleOpenerWala, Mumbai demonstrates the most homely and welcoming version of Nankhatai.
“There are many ways to make Nankhatai. Some people use rawa and eggs, but I don’t. I follow the original recipe of my grandmother, in which she uses besan or gram flour, ghee, icing sugar and maida,” explains Chef Akshata, who also holds a Grand Diplome from the renowned Le Cordon Bleu Paris.
Despite not being a Parsi herself, Chef Akshata’s passion for simple food drew her to learn more about Parsi food. “I was born and brought up in Mumbai with a lot of Parsi families as our neighbours. Later, I also married into a Parsi family and tried to achieve the flavours my husband grew up with,” she says.
She goes onto speak about her discoveries of Parsi food being distinct to each family – which is the reason why even the Parsi masala, which one would expect to be a staple recipe, varies from place to place. She states, “While some masalas use nutmeg (jaiphal), others don’t.”
Coming to the delicious, melt-in-the-mouth Nankhatai. It is one of India’s forgotten gems, which used to be baked on charcoal. The biscuits are usually found on pushcarts in bazaars and the streetsides
To make a healthier version of it, Chef Akshata uses powdered oats to supplement refined flour.
The best Nankhatai has to have cracks on it. And her recipe achieves just that. She gives certain tips for preparing the moreish treats. Over mixing the sugar and ghee is what adds more moisture and stickiness, which is undesirable. When eggs are added, she feels the outcome is not as crumbly.
Healthy Oats Nankhatai
Ghee 1 cup
Icing sugar 1 cup
Oats flour 2 ½ cups
Gram flour (besan) ½ cup
Vanilla essence 1 tsp
1.Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2.Mix ghee and sugar together being careful not to over mix.
3.Sift in the flour and besan and mould into a dough. Again be careful not to mould too much.
4.Roll the dough into little balls and set on a greased tray.
5.Bake for 20 minutes till golden brown and cracks form on the top