Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nan Khatai

The past week my thoughts were consumed with all the goodies that I'd bake for Christmas kuswar( goodies platter). The only friend who bakes this season in the spirit of Christmas is a a fellow foodie, Mamata Uttangi. Her house is always loaded with baked/fried goodies..all home-made and in massive quantities. When I say massive, I mean m-a-s-s-i-v-e. Her cup for measurement is a 'ser/sher aka pav'. You get the point!

Last week, nan khatai was the highlight of the eve. Upon offering these, I shamelessly forgot to offer my husband one, ignored my kids & relished them like they were the first time I had laid my hands on them. You don't understand...If you are a materialistic person, in your view, these are like gold to me, let's say "a melt in your mouth" kind of gold. They were the first home-made nan khatais that tasted authentic & far better than bakery ones, tantalizing my nostalgic memory...teasing for more.

Would nan khatai purists be terribly upset for doing this to plain old cookies? (BTW,the crushed pistachio goes in before being baked so it adheres well as well as hides unsightly cracks ( two-fer again!)...if you are a perfectionist like me & don't like to see your goodies  crack on top while baking)

Recipe source: Mamata Uttangi
pretty easy '5321' in her words. So here goes:
Half recipe yields 72 nan khatais.

5 cups maida/ AP flour
3 cups sugar
2 cups ghee
1 cup besan
Elaichi powder

Mix all of the above. Place on counter top (covered) overnight.

The next day, shape into balls, flatten them. Place on parchment lined sheet pan, bake at 350F for 10-15 mins. I say 10 minutes for just done ivory colored nan khatai. For brown edges 15 mins.

Turn them to see slight browned bottom. Cool.

Seriously, that's it!

FYI, no extra lbs were put-on in the making of these.
All my goodies were shared with Sheila, Indu, the librarians at my town & Mamta of course!

G's note:
*Mamta rolled it into a log and cut up discs & baked (considering the amount she had to tackle that day with a toddler in tow).
*I made half of the recipe, had all the time on hands to shape these babies and went a step further like mentioned above.

Meringue cookies

A novice conquers her fear and enters a unknown territory. It's about time! Anyone who worked with these knows what I'm talking about. You need to beat the egg whites, just right. A few beats shy and you don't get the peak that you were anticipating. A couple extra beats & you loose the peak/ fluff & shine and end up with curdle mess. Apart from these problems, the worst is the crack on the finished product (I had 2 hairline crack on my cookies, 2 out of 75, not bad, I say). A "baking experiment that yielded perfection" is a beautiful day!.

Meringue cookies a k a Cashew macaroon: who knew that a shapeless mound of snowy tower with bits of cashew nuts poking through, would change a mom's priorities for a day?! "Today is the changing day in your life", picture Dr Phil's voice as you read this. Overcoming fear of deflated macaroon/ meringue & moving on is crossed off of my list today!

You may think, why in the world, would I want this so bad!
The answer is
(1) I don't accept failure well,
(2)At a recent trip to homeland, a little friend presented my kids with a packet of meringue also called as cashew macaroon (not to be mistaken with coconut cookies called as macaroons as well) that they absolutely loved &
(3) lastly, I live in a land where such desi delicacies are rare and with any luck if I happen to find a packet, they are near-rotten.

I've finally overcome the fear of deflated dry meringues.
The keys to remember are:
do not open the oven impatiently while baking these cuties.
Use cream of tartar to stabilize the meringue
beat egg whites to soft peaks( at least) before you add sugar.
If adding nuts or choc chips, add it to the piped meringues not to the batter.

Pics didn't do justice, but is up for curious cats.

Thanks to Sandra Lee's recipe, we now have a perfect 'kisses'
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon imitation strawberry extract
3 drops red food coloring

Special Equipment: Pastry bag
#4 star tip
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat egg whites in clean large metal bowl on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Increase speed to high and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Quickly mix in strawberry extract. Stir in food coloring, 1 drop at a time, until desired color is achieved.

Spoon meringue into pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe 12 (1 1/2-inch high by 1 1/2 -inch in diameter) mounds onto each prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Bake for 3 hours, or until dry and crisp. Cool meringues completely on baking sheets. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.