A Meal At The Table
I made these simple, but delicious Nankhatai or Indian cookies (one of Sonshine's favorites), to celebrate Sonshine's music art work completion and the fact the we could (finally!) have a meal at our dining table. Wonder how they are related? Read on to find out...
[When I uploaded this photo, I was reminded that a couple of years back, Sonshine would have refused to touch these cookies because of the pink bow. I am so glad that he is beyond the pink-blue gender based color scheme now].
Coming back to the dining table story: we had not had a meal at our dining table for quite some time now. It's not because I had stopped cooking meals - it's because Sonshine had spread his art work all over the dining table - not even a millimeter of space to spare on the table. There was this diorama being planned - so there were paint brushes, shoe box, stickers, glue, paper, glitter - it was like a mini hobby lobby on my dining table. Unlike the actual hobby lobby, the items on the dining table were completely unorganized.
This art work was music related and was meant to be submitted for a piano recital he was participating in. I knew it was coming up and had planned it so well that Sonshine should have completed it in at-most two days' time. And provided he had put his mind to it, he should have completed it during the spring break. But as the age old saying goes, Mom proposes, Sonshine disposes - Sonshine had other (and according to him, much more fun) plans during the spring break. To please me, Sonshine did start the project during his spring break, but it was not completed, till last week. So, the dining table was not available for meals for almost a month.
Here's a sneak peek at the finished project, which Sonshine calls "Music Is Everywhere".
The project was inspired by this (if anyone is interested, the website also gives a template), and some of the pictures from the template were printed on to a card stock. His piano teacher was impressed with his work and that made him a happy boy and that in turn made me, a happy mamma. And this happy mamma celebrated Sonshine's accomplishment and the return-of-the-dining-table-for-meals with this Nankhatai.
My childhood experiences with Nankhatai boils down to these two instances - buying it from a local bakery or watching my aunt make it. And irrespective of the source, savoring them. At that time, my aunt did not have an oven at her home. So, she struck a deal with the local bakery and she used to make the dough and give it to them. They would bake it for her for a small fee. As far as I remember, the ingredient list was very small. The dry ingredients were just maida (or all purpose flour), baking soda, salt and ground cardamom. And then there was butter and sugar.
During my childhood, I never anticipated that I would someday make it. I never asked my aunt for the recipe. I was on the look out for an authentic Nankhatai recipe just like the way my aunt made it and my friend Sandhya shared this recipe with me. The original recipe that Sandhya shared uses nutmeg. But as far as I remember, my aunt never used it. So, I omit nutmeg when I make it. As far as the shelf life goes, these cookies have never lasted for more than a week at home, so I can only say they definitely would last for at least a week in an air tight container. Beyond that?? Who knows?
Edited the recipe to rearrange the instruction to make it seamless. And also to include some comments that I got from readers.
- 1 Cup (125 gm) All purpose flour or Maida
- ½ Cup (100 gm) Granulated Sugar
- ½ Cup (1 Stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 tsp Ground Cardamom
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- ¼ tsp Salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit or 180 degree Celsius.
- On a cookie tray, spread a baking sheet or parchment paper.
- Mix all purpose flour, baking soda, salt and ground cardamom in a small bowl using a small wire whisk.
- If the sugar granules are big, powder it using your food processor or mixer-grinder. In a large mixing bowl, mix together softened butter and sugar.
- Cream the butter and sugar till you cannot feel the sugar granules in the mixture. The time for this step depends on the size of the sugar granules.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mix.
- Combine the flour mixture and the butter mixture using your hands to form a soft dough.
- Make 20 balls out of the dough, each about 1 inch in diameter. Slightly flatten with your palm. Place the balls on the cookie sheet about 1.5 to 2 inches apart.
- Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes. When they come out of the oven they will be a little soft, but will harden on cooling.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Store in an air tight cookie jar.
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