This is not a new post. It is a post that I have issued last year and I promised to bake this for Chinese New Year. There are two recipes, the first recipes uses ghee entirely where as the second modified recipes uses a mixture of butter and ghee and some corn flour to better the shape of the cookies.
You can either use recipe 1 or recipe 2 and that very much depends on your needs. Personally, I preferred to have recipe 1 for home consumption whereas for gifts as friends or relatives, recipe 2 is preferred.
Looking at these cookies, how shall you describe them? Probably, you will reply that the cookies appear to be flat, thin, rusky, fragile and very light.
What can you infer from these characteristics? These characteristics just indicate to foodies that the cookies are buttery and melt in the mouth!
Yes, these cookies really melt in your mouth meaning you do not even need to use your teeth during your ingestion. You can just put one cookie in your mouth, your tongue and saliva (description a bit gross) will help you to do the job, it melts and send it directly down to your palate.
This is definitely not a trendy cookie and its ingredients are rather uncommon in Singapore and Malaysia’s pastry. It is a cookie with long history and it has a proper name called “NAN KHATAI” or “Indian Short Bread”. Ghee, a type of clarified butter was used instead of normal butter. Semolina flour were added to the cookies and therefore at times it is also called “sugee cookies” though the name ”sugee cookies” can be overly general.
I have had this recipe for years, meaning more than 10 years. I have never take a step out to prepare this cookie. I remember one of my brothers loved sugee cakes and sugee cookies and that is the reason why I have this recipe with me. Yesterday, I have decided to bake this cookie.
I managed to get this recipe when I searched for another cookie called “melting moments”. This cookie were also prepared using ghee, shape into a small ball and dusted with powdered icing sugar. It is one of my favorite Chinese New Year cookie. Years ago, when I searched for melting moments recipe, Nan Khatai’s recipes appeared. Immediately, I am attracted to this cookie because of its light yellowish color. Analyzing the ingredient, I knew it will be a very tasty recipe. I printed out and kept it until today. I am very happy that the recipe is still on the internet and you can locate the original recipe here.
GHEE AND SEMOLINA FLOUR
The two most unique ingredients for the recipe were ghee and semolina flour. Both ingredients were used abundantly in South Asia Continent’s cuisines. Ghee is a type of clarified butter with a slightly higher fat content. Ghee is no simple fat, for me, it smells much more aromatic than butter, in fact it is more expensive than butter. A 150 g tin of ghee will cost SGD3.50 whereas a 250 g of butter will cost only SGD3-4 depending on the brands.
In my humble opinion, if you have tasted ghee, you may not like butter or margarine. I would attribute that the “melt in your mouth” properties of this cookie is due to the usage of ghee. Though the original recipe called for butter but I have insisted of using ghee and I can immediately tell that butter would not be able to produce this light texture after I took my first bite. It will be good if readers can read more about ghee in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghee.
Malaysia and Singapore’s Eurasian communities like to use semolina flour in their pastry. One of the most famous Eurasian festival cake is sugee cake and semolina flour was used. You can get it rather easily in most supermarkets that sell various types of flours.
According to “The Food Encyclopedia” published by Robert Rose Inc. 2006, it was written:
“ Semolina – a coarsely ground durum wheat flour where the bran and germ have been sifted out, very light in colour and texture, used for making pasta, gnocchi, cereals, couscous, puddings and soups. From the Italian semolina, a diminutive of semola, meaning “bran”, and similia, meaning very fine wheat flour”
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Recipe adapted from: Nan Khatai by Diana Desserts (servings: about 50 pieces of 2-3 cm diameter cookies)
100 grams of self raising flour
100 grams of semolina flour
50 grams of ground almond/ almond flour/almond meal
75 grams of castor sugar
150 grams of ghee or butter *
1 egg beaten
half a teaspoon of vanilla essence (optional)
Adequate almond flakes or toasted whole almonds for the cookies.
* For taste and aroma, use ghee. For better shaping, use butter
STEPS OF PREPARATION
Pre-heat your oven to 185 degree Celsius.
Have 2 baking trays ready and line with parchment or baking paper.
In a big mixing bowl, beat the ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until well mixed.
Add in semolina flour and self raising flour, use hand to fold in or continue using machine to “stir” until well mixed.
Put your batter in a piping bag and pipe the batter in the baking tray of your desired size. Leave adequate space for expansion. Put some almond flakes or almond chunks or whole almonds on top of the pastry.
Baked in the oven at 185 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.
Cool the cookies completely before store in an air tight container,
This is an extremely nice cookie and in my humble opinion, it is even better than the traditional English short bread that I have prepared earlier.
It is able to melt in the mouth because of ghee which is a clarified butter but with a slightly higher fat content. If you look at the flat cookies, you will know this is a hard core version using ghee (not butter or margarine) and it will be very light. In fact, I have weighed the cookies and one cookie weigh about 6 grams. This is extremely light!
If you Google Nan Khatai, if the shape of the Nan Khatai is flat and like what I have prepared in this post, it is definitely made with ghee. If it had a very nice shape and all are of the same size, the cookies are most likely to be made from butter. I am quite insistent that readers used ghee instead of butter.
This is the cookie I strongly recommend and if there is any cookie that I want to sell during Chinese New Year or other festivals, this will definitely my top priority.
UPDATED ON 4 JANUARY 2013
This is the second batch of nan khatai cookies I made on 4 January 2014 and made minor adjustments as highlighted in red as follows:
- 150 grams of self raising flour
50 grams of semolina flour
75 grams of castor sugar
- 50 grams of ground almond or almond meals
100 grams of ghee
50 grams of butter
2 teaspoon of corn flour
1 egg beaten
half a teaspoon of vanilla essence
Adequate almond flakes or whole almonds for the cookies.
OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENTS OF THE SECOND BATCH
For home consumption, it is still better to use the first recipe as it is more aromatic and really melt in the mouth. However, shape is compromised and it may break rather easily due to its light texture. However it is extremely delicious.
For gifts for friend or relatives, the second modified recipe is recommended as it is more presentable and the taste wouldn’t compromise much at all. But, a sincere advise is not to use whole almond or cashew nuts as the texture of the nuts does not blend well with the melt in the mouth texture. Almond flakes is still recommended.
This recipe was included in Page 10 and Page 11 of the following E-book.
For more Chinese New Year related cookies, snack and steamed cake recipes, you can have a copy of “Easy Chinese New Year Recipes – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD3.50. The recipes covered various recipes from auspicious radish cake to nian gao to traditional kuih bangkit to trendy London almond cookies. Of course not forgetting both type of pineapple tarts. You can purchase by clicking the link above. You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and separate arrangement can be made.
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