Nankhatais are shortbread biscuits, originating from the Indian subcontinent, popular in India and Pakistan. The word Nankhatai is derived from Persian word Naan meaning bread and "Khatai" from an Afghan word meaning Biscuit.
In Afghanistan and Northeast Iran, these biscuits are called Kulcha-e-Khataye. Kulcha is a type of bread similar to Naan.
Nankhatai is believed to have originated in Surat in the 16th century, the time when Dutch and Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian. The bakery biscuits were disliked by the locals. To save his business he started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. With time, his experimentation with bread ultimately gave birth to Nankhatai.
Cococnut nankhatai is an eggless light and crispy cookie that can be served with an hot tea or coffee. Adding desiccated coconut gives nice flavour of coconut. These light and flaky shortbread, flavoured with or without cardamom and/or vanilla will just melt away in your mouth.
Nankhatai are also known as Indian shortbread cookies or biscuits. They are made from all purpose flour, sugar, ghee or butter. Sometimes whole wheat flour or semolina/rava/sooji can be used.
My mother used to make yummy nankhatai and I learned this from her. These are my favourite cookies since childhood. Sometimes she made coconut nankhatai, sometimes plain, sometimes with nuts/dry fruits, sometimes vanilla flavoured and many more types. I have lovely childhood memories associated with nankhatais.
You can make nankhatai in bulk and then can store it in an air tight container and can enjoy for next few days.