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Saffron Nan Khatai

by Anisa Karolia from The Ramadan Cookbook

These crumbly, buttery cookies are delicately flavoured with saffron and cardamom.

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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. 

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125g caster sugar
125g ghee
4 tbsp oil
1 tsp saffron threads
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp fine semolina
125g ground almonds
1 tbsp chickpea flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
about 280g plain flour
For the decoration:
glacé cherries
chopped almonds
dried rose petals

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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. 

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The Ramadan Cookbook

From filling ideas for suhoor, to satisfying dishes for iftar The Ramadan Cookbook, from award-winning food blogger Anisa Karolia, is the ultimate guide to cooking during the annual month of fasting observed throughout the Muslim world.

Available to download for just 99p for a limited time only, for UK customers.

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From the book: The Ramadan Cookbook

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