Nankhatai also called Indian shortbread cookies or biscuits. They are made with flour, sugar and ghee or butter. There are many variations of Nankhatai, some recipes use half suji” or semolina and half flour. They can be made in different flavours as well from plain to a selection of flavours of your choice – see my note below.

Nankhatai is an Indian cookie which is a favorite in most Indo-Mauritian families. They are usually made for most celebrations such as Diwali & Christmas. In Mauritius they are even served individually wrapped as wedding cakes in Indian weddings. 20151107_222217

Ingredients for Nankathai Makes 12-16 small cookies

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 1 cup ghee or butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder or grated nutmeg
  • Few drops rose spice drops (I used Holy Lama spice drops) but if you cannot get hold rose essence is fine.
  • Few sliced almonds and sesame seeds for garnishing
  • 1 to 2 tsp milk or water for kneading, optional and if required


  • Cream the ghee and castor sugar using until light, smooth and creamy.
  • In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients – flour, semolina, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and baking soda.
  • Start adding the mixed dry ingredients – Using a wooden spoon mix well to incorporate all the ingredients. At this stage add the flavorings essence you’ve chosen.
  • Using your hand gently knead to a smooth dough.
  • Pinch medium sized balls from the dough roll them evenly in your palms.
  • Slightly flatten them, using your thumb press slight in the middle forming a little dent in the middle.
  • Press in the sliced almonds and sesame on the top slightly. 20151107_160358
  • You can also make some criss cross designs on the Nankhatai with a fork or toothpick.
  • Keep some space between them as they expand while baking.    
  • Bake the Nankhatai in a pre heated oven at 180 degreesC for 15-20 minutes till light golden.
  • Remove the Nankathai from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool. 20141023_122311

Brinda’s Notes:

The flavours I have used are cardamom and rose water. You can choose which ones you want to use, such as nutmeg, almond, or even add chopped nuts, sesame seeds etc,…

As the temperatures vary in different oven models, keep an eye while baking. If the Nankhatai are not baked enough after 15-20 minutes bake them for few more minutes.

Other variations: If you fancy something different then check this out. I have used Sweet Mascapone cream cheese to sandwich the nankathai, but this is optional as nankathai is delicious on its own without any fillings.  20141025_095124

Ingredients for sweet cream cheese filling

  • 125gms Macapone small tub
  • 3 Tbs light or dark Muscavado Sugar – I have used Muscavado sugar from Mauritius, but you can use any other type.
  • 1 vanilla pod – sliced and seeded