Saturday, November 13, 2010

Of Diwali Traditions and Nankhatai

I told you we don't make diwali sweets or snacks at home. But other people I know have charming diwali traditions; and I bring you one of those from my friend A.



For as long as I remember, we've made nankhatai at diwali. Or rather, since we haven't owned an oven as long, we've made nankhatai dough that goes to the neighborhood bakery to turn into crisply baked cookies. This year, as my mother took out the ingredients to make this lovely diwali dish to serve all the guests who will visit during the four days of the festival, I decided to volunteer.

The ingredients, as I said, were already measured so let me quickly recount those for you. A kilo each of plain flour, powdered sugar and ghee (clarified butter) plus 100 grams of semolina. First I mixed the flour, sugar and semolina. Then I melted the ghee and started to add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until it all came together. I kneaded it lightly with my palms until it was all a smooth dough (and if you only do it once a year, it is a lot of hard work!).

The dough then went into a large container that we then took over to the bakery. Over at the bakery, I was handed large aluminium baking trays and I set to work shaping the cookies. First, I pinched lemon sized balls of dough and shaped them into a smooth round. Gently flattened it and placed it on the baking sheet. I filled three of those huge sheets, so there would be some 150 cookies at least.

I pressed a chironji seeds in the center of each cookie, scattered a few black sesame seeds and dabbed the top of each one with saffron water. Then the trays went into the large wood fired oven and I started looking around. There were aunties doing beautiful, intricate work on their cookies - patterns of saffron, dual-toned cookies with cocoa powder, tons of ideas for me to pick for next year.

Ten minutes later, the cookies were puffy and crisp. They also had cracks all over, but I think those just add to their charm. I chatted some more with the other bakers while my cookies cooled, then headed back to a festive home. With a treat to match the mood!

11 comments:

Jayasri Ravi said...

They look delicious, I liked the colour, I too made Nankhatai long time back!My H did not relish it much as mine wasn't too sweet :(

simply.food said...

Lovely looking nakhatais.The whole experience sound fun.

Aparna said...

Those nankhatais look so beautiful, Simran. Was wondering what that beautiful orange on top was.
When you say saffron water, do you mean saffron dissolved in warm water? When you brush the top with it, doesn't it get absorbed?

I'm going to make these before 2010 runs out! :D

Srivalli said...

How wonderful Simmi..Imagine going to a bakery to bake them!..I always wanted to do that, espiecially to see what gets done out there. And you pressed out all of them yourself, I am sure they tasted heavenly..as aparna says I am going to make them pretty soon..

The decoration looks so cute..do reply to Aparna's question, I have the same doubt..heheh..

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Simran said...

@Aparna @Srivalli Yes, it is saffron dissolved in a little bit of warm water. You dab it on with a cotton ball (not a pastry brush) and it stays on top!

pallavi said...

what temperature should be bake them at if doing it at home?

Simran said...

@pallavi I usually bake all cookies at 175-180C so that's what I would do for these at home. 20 minutes in a 180C oven should do it.

KamalKitchen said...

Looks gr8..all i need now is a cup of tea to eat this with..

thanks..
pb
http://kamalkitchen.blogspot.com

notyet100 said...

feel like picking one,.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

You went to a bakery and they let you bake there?? I've never heard of this!