I’m happy typing this post as I feel in some way that I have started reaching easily to my readers which for some reason was not happening earlier. It is not that I’ve not replied to mails or queries but somehow the demand of a recipe had never happened that easily earlier on this blog. I’m glad that I’ve been able to keep my promise and hopefully will continue doing that..
The recipe of Nan Khatai was asked by a reader Rubina Quddusi, from Lahore, Pakistan and I had told her that I will post the recipe for her which is also very close to my heart as it was shared with me by my dear MIL. The Nan Khatai made by my MIL is very famous in the Vasisht family and undoubtedly post marriage even I became a fan of the preparation especially since she did not use butter but preferred oil. The original recipe needs 6ingredients and involves egg too, but MIL’s recipe needs just four ingredients and absolutely no egg!!! So, this biscuit is perfect for weight watchers too, who do not want to indulge in butter. My MIL makes small sized biscuits so that there are plenty to eat and you don’t feel guilty eating more of them, I must say that’s smart thinking!!!
Now, I’ve been eating this Nan Khatai for years made by MIL and she parted with her recipe ages back with me but some how I never tried it, the reason being that my MIL always said that this recipe is perfect for the age old ovens but whenever she has tried it in an oven of new make, it did not turn out well. Now, I do not have the old round oven and I do most of my baking in my microwave in the convection mode, so I did quiver with the thought of making it..but Rubina’s request made me try it in my oven and I was surprised to see almost the same result as my MIL. Thanks Rubina, your request made me move out of my comfort zone and try a preparation. And while I tagged my post, I realized that till date I’d not posted any biscuit in my blog..so, it’s the best way to start a new label with an old recipe which has an Indian origin and is famous in the world, for that.
Another good thing about blogging is that while I research on recipes and food, I learn so much and I read a lot, especially the history behind preparations and while I read about Nan Khatai a few interesting facts came before me which I’m sure many might be knowing and for those who do not know here they are..
The name Nan Khatai has been attributed to the Persian for “Bread of Cathay” (Nan, which means bread in Persian, Khatai which means from Cathay or China) as well as Persian for “Bread made with six ingredients” (Nan – Bread, Khat/Shat – Six – flour, eggs, sugar, butter or ghee, leaven produced from toddy or grain, and almonds).
Near the end of 16th century, the Dutch colonists set up a bakery for making bread for their consumption in Surat (a port city in the state of Gujarat in India). When the Dutch left, they entrusted the bakery to a trusted employee called Dotivala. Enterprising Dotivala changed the shape of the bread, and dried the slices in the oven. This oven dried bread is called 'Irani Biscuit'.
He also experimented with a number of recipes and came up with a recipe for a puff pastry biscuit called “Khara Biscuit”, “Nan Khatai” and “Farmasu” or “Surti Batasa”. All of these recipes exist in some form or another to this day. That is saying something considering we are talking about a period in history about 300 years back. To read more check here.
I’ve made no changes to the recipe I was provided with but the next time I will add my variations, try some cardamom flavor and also press almonds or nuts on the biscuit.. Also, ensure when you try this recipe that the biscuit does not turn brown as Nan Khatai is white in color.
Vegan Nan Khatai
Preparation Time: 10mins
Baking Time: 8-10mins per batch
Makes: about 16
1cup Maida (APF)
1cup ground sugar
a pinch of soda bicarbonate
and about 1/2 cup oil or about 40ml oil
Mix all the dry ingredients and add 1/4cup oil at first and mix it with the flour. After that add oil gradually to make a soft dough which retains its shape (like the chapati dough). You might not need the entire oil but then that depends on the quality of flour you are using..
Make equal sized small balls and flatten them lightly. Place them on a greased baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 8-10mins.
One will observe light cracks on the biscuit while baking, once you see the cracks, bake for another two minutes and remove on a cooling rack. Once cooled store in an air tight container. This biscuit stays good for about 2weeks.
Note: I would like to reduce the sugar next time to may be 3/4th cup instead of 1. If you have a sweet tooth, stick to a cup of powdered sugar.