I made this heirloom recipe a few days before Diwali
I’ve been going back to all sorts of memories from my childhood these past few weeks over the festive week.
I remembered my late grandmother – a quiet, kind, generous and demure woman that none could fault.
I loved visiting her in Durban during the school holidays. She lived in a small flat. Her kitchen was smaller than the size of my bathroom is…maybe just 5m2 in area. Despite this, food was always abundant. We always woke up to piping hot tea ( I think thats where I picked up my habit) and fresh thiki poori or thepla, with her famous home made pickled mangoes.
Late night cravings were satisfied with the best biscuits that never seemed to run out.
My granny… we called her Sushiba. She made the best nankatai – a fragrant spiced eggless Indian biscuit.
I spent days digging up my mums old recipe books looking for the recipe. Finally, I found it in an A5 feint-ruled notebook. The pages were yellow with age, and the recipe scribbled down in brief point form that I just managed to decipher.
It had been a long time since we last made nankatai. I was on a mission to make them for Diwali, for my family to slip into nostalgia. I made them slightly larger than my grandmother used to make them. Usually she made them bite sized.
Although, I couldn’t resist adding a touch of pink to give them some colour, my heart just told me that next time I will leave them to their original colour. I’m not sure how to explain why…
Makes +- 20 biscuits
Prep Time: 10 minutes Baking Time: 20minutes
2 1/2 cups ghee
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 cup plain cake flour
4 tbsp semolina
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground elaichi (cardamom)
a handful or so of sliced or whole almonds
*food colour of your choice ( although, they’re beautiful when they’re left plain)
Cream the ghee and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Sift and combine the dry ingredients, except for the cardamom.
Slowly fold in the sifted dry ingredients until gently combined with the ghee mixture.
Stir in the cardamom.
Shape into little circles (about 3cm). Place them on a greased baking tray, and then gently push down with a fork.
Finish with a sliver of almond in the centre. I wanted to use whole almonds but didn’t have any in stock.
Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. You will be able to notice a golden change in colour.
Allow to cool, and sprinkle with glitter! Again.. I did this in the spirit of Diwali!
My mum was really impressed with my nankatai – something I did not expect at all.
A little tip she gave me: you know you’ve got it right when the nankatai shows tiny cracks on the edges, and melts in your mouth on the first bite.
Rojho enjoyed his Diwali treat;)