We are thrilled to add these Almond Flour Cookies, also called Nankhatai, to our series on Cookies with a Pinch of Sugar and Spice. This recipe from cookbook author and spice expert Rinku Bhattacharya features one of our favorite aphrodisiac spices: Cardamom.
The use of cardamom in baking
Aromatic, with a heat similar to ginger, cardamom has been used as an aphrodisiac not only in India but throughout ancient Greece, Rome and Arabia. In Rinku’s version of these simple, eggless shortbread cookies, also known as Nankhatai, it is offset by the sweetness of almond. (It’s worth noting that almond is also an aphrodisiac of historic repute.) For more ideas on cooking with exotic spices including cardamom, check out Rinku’s blog Spice Chronicles.
The history of these Indian shortbread cookies
These traditional, Indian cookies are made using a variety of flours. In this version, Rinku uses a combination of almond flour (almond meal) and white flour. It is believed the cookies were invented in the 16th century and the recipe has evolved over the centuries but it has always remained an eggless shortbread cookie.
They’re most often served as a tea time snack. However, they’re losing popularity now that tempting packaged cookies like Oreos are widely available.
Can you make a vegan version of these Nankhatai cookies?
Although this recipe makes an eggless cookie, creating a vegan version of the recipe isn’t as simple as just using your favorite vegan butter substitute and a vegan-friendly brown sugar. That’s because most vegans don’t eat almonds. The practices used in many almond orchards, particularly in California, are considered cruel to bees. For this reason, most vegans avoid almonds.
However, if you really want to share these tempting Indian cookies with your vegan friends, you can use chickpea flour or whole wheat flour. (Note that whole wheat will make a heavier cookie.) Although the slivered almond garnish is a fairly traditional topping for a Nankhatai recipe, you can simply leave them off.
Nankhatai Almond Flour Cookies with Cardamom
- 15 green cardamom pods
- 3/4 cup butter plus butter for greasing the cookie sheet
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup almond meal
- Slivered or chopped almonds to garnish
- Peel the cardamom pods and grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle (it is important to use fresh cardamom seeds for this recipe).
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees
- In a mixing bowl place the butter and sugar and cream until soft and fluffy with a wooden spoon or electric mixer.
- Gradually add in the flour and the crushed cardamoms with the almond meal.
- Grease the cookie sheet and shape the dough into 1-1/2 inch round and flatten and place on the tray 1-1/2 inches apart.
- Add some slivered almonds in the center and bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes. These are delicate and can burn easily, so turn off the oven when the edges are just slightly brown.
- Let them rest in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes and then take them out and let them cool.
- Remove when cool and enjoy.
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