Gluten Free Indian Shortbread
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Gluten Free Naankhatai Indian (Shortbread)

This perfectly addictive, melt in your mouth naankhatai is spiced with cardamom and topped with almonds. It requires no leavening agents or eggs to make it crumbly and delicious.

Growing up in Kenya, my mom would often make Naankhatai. They were our favourite. In fact, I did not know there was something called the Scottish shortbread cookie till I was almost a teenager. A family friend traveled to the UK and brought some Scottish shortbread back for us. I fell in love with it, but whenever I want the comfort of my childhood, I go back to making and having this snack. This recipe is inspired by my mom’s traditional recipe.

The Gluten Free Flour:

Traditionally this recipe is made with all purpose flour and has very few other ingredients. Since my shortbread is gluten free, I use 1 cup of gluten free flour in place of the regular all purpose flour. I prefer to make my own gluten free flour:

  • by combining 3/4 cup of brown rice flour
  • and 1/4 cup of tapioca flour

The Ingredients This Delicious Snack:

Ingredients for Naankhatai

The Ingredients List:

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cups rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal (yellow or white)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground cardamom powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cups clarified butter (ghee) – see below on how to make your own.
  • 20 whole almonds

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The Dough:

In a large mixing bowl combine :

  • 1 cup of gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup of chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • Sift 1/2 cup of icing sugar into the bowl.
  • Combine all the dry ingredients together.

Dry ingredients for Naankhatai

To the bowl add:

  • 3/4 cup of clarified butter (ghee). See my instructions below on how to make it at home yourself.
Dry ingredients with ghee

Mix the ghee with the dry ingredients to form a dough. The dough will be crumbly, but soft.

Ready to roll dough for Naankhatai

Making The Indian Snack

Here’s how to make the cookies:

  • Using your entire hand, squeeze about two tablespoons worth of dough into a ball shape.
  • Using both your palms, flatten the ball shape a slight bit to form an approximately 1 inch diameter cookie.
  • It will take a little bit of effort to get them to be round and not crumble.
  • Place a whole almond into the center of the cookie and press down slightly to ensure that it sticks.
  • Don’t push too hard or the cookie will crumble and you will need to start over.
Rolled Indian shortbread

Baking The Cookie:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Line a 9 x 13 inch baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Place the shortbread on the tray. Place them about half an inch apart from each other. They will expand as they cook.
  • Bake them for about 15 mins.
  • After 15 mins check on them to ensure they are just starting to brown from the sides. You don’t want them to brown completely. That will mean the shortbread has burnt.
  • The colour of the cooked shortbread is very similar to uncooked shortbread.
Indian shortbread Naankhatai

Remove from the oven and let the shortbread cool completely on the baking tray. They will be very soft and if you try to move them to a cookie rack, they will crumble right away.

The shortbread will crack as it cools. But that’s expected and it’s part of the charm of the recipe.

Storing Options:

  • Naankhatai can be stored in an air-tight container on the counter for up to a week.
  • Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  • To reheat, place them in the toaster oven on a tray for a quick zap and enjoy them as if they just came out of the oven.

Make your own clarified butter (ghee)

If you don’t have any ghee at home, fret not. It’s easy to make it yourself. Melt some butter in a pot until it starts to boil. Remove it from the heat and let it cool down completely.

Melter butter

Once it cools down completely, the milk solids will separate leaving behind a puddle of white liquid (buttermilk). The milk solids are what you are looking for. That is your ghee. 1 cup of butter will generally make about 3/4 cup of ghee. You can discard the buttermilk and use the ghee.

Clarified butter

Variations:

Traditionally this is made with all-purpose flour, but mine is gluten free. Here are a few of my suggestions on how to vary the recipe:

  1. Arrowroot flour – if you don’t have or can’t find tapioca flour, replace it with arrowroot flour or even.
  2. Pistachio – the almonds on top can easily be replaced with another nut such as pistachio or even cashew nuts.
  3. All purpose flour – make them the traditional way and replace the gluten free flour with all purpose flour.
  4. All spice – replace the cardamom powder with all spice. It has an equally delicious flavour.

Gluten Free Naankhatai (Indian Shortbread)

Course: DessertCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

20

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Baking time

20

minutes
Calories

119

kcal
Resting time

10

minutes
Total time

40

minutes

This perfectly addictive, melt in your mouth naankhatai is spiced with cardamom and topped with almonds. It requires no leavening agents or eggs to make it crumbly and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar

  • 3/4 cups rice flour

  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour (or arrowroot flour)

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour

  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal (yellow or white)

  • 1 teaspoon finely ground cardamom powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • 3/4 cups clarified butter (ghee) – see note

  • 20 whole almonds

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the rice flour, tapioca flour, chick pea flour, corn meal and cardamom powder and salt to the bowl. Mix all the dry ingredients well.
  • Bring the clarified butter to room temperature and add it to the dry ingredients.
  • Mix everything well and form a dough. The dough will be crumbly.
  • Using your entire hand, squeeze about two tablespoons worth of dough into a ball shape. Using both your palms, flatten the ball shape a slight bit to form an approximately 1 inch diameter disk.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the cookie on it. Place a whole almond in the center of the disc and press down lightly to ensure that the almond sticks.
  • Repeat step 6 till you have used up all dough.
  • Bake them for about 15 mins – or till they are just starting to brown. Do not overcook.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking tray.
  • Once cooled enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.

Notes

    Naankhatai nutrition


    What is naankhatai made of?

    Gluten Free Indian Shortbread

    My gluten free naankhatai is made of:
    – gluten free flour
    – icing sugar
    – ghee (clarified butter)
    – cardamon powder
    – whole almonds


    What is the difference between shortbread and naankhatai?

    Indian shortbread Naankhatai

    The main difference is shortbread uses cold butter, meanwhile naankhatai is made of ghee (clarified butter), which is soft. The other difference is the addition of spices such as cardamom in the Indian version.


    What’s the secret to making good naankhatai?

    Rolled Indian shortbread

    The secret to making any good shortbread is good amounts of butter or ghee and icing or powdered sugar. These two ingredients are key to making a good shortbread.

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