Nankhatai are eggless cardamom-scented cookies that are a favorite in India and Pakistan. One taste of these aromatic cookies and we knew they were a worthy addition to our repertoire. They’re often made with semolina flour, rice flour, chickpea flour, or a combination of these along with the white flour, but we found we could make great-tasting biscuits with pantry staples. Though nankhatai are often thick and puffy, our version is rolled thin for dunking into chai. We wanted the flavor of cardamom to take center stage, so we started with a simple butter cookie base. To help bring the cookie dough together without egg, we enriched it with a small amount just 1½ tablespoons of plain yogurt, a common ingredient in Indian cooking. In addition to giving our dough just the right consistency, the yogurt provided a slight tang that befit these unique biscuits. For an elegant finish, we studded the middle of each cookie with a single cashew half. We like the appearance of fluted rounds for these cookies, but you can cut them into any shape you like. You can use plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt for these cookies, but don’t use nonfat yogurt; it will make the cookies too lean. Be sure to plan ahead, as the dough must chill for several hours.
- Yield: 36 cookies
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 1½ tablespoons plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 18 salted roasted cashews, split in half
- Whisk flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt together in bowl; set aside. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add yogurt and vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, and mix until just combined. Transfer dough to counter and divide in half. Form each half into 5-inch disk, wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Working with 1 disk of dough at a time, roll dough ⅛ inch thick. Using 2½-inch cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes; space shapes 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Gently reroll scraps once, cut into shapes, and transfer to prepared sheets. Gently press cashew half in center of each cookie.
- Bake cookies until lightly browned, 14 to 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.