I grew up munching on Nankhatai biscuits from the famous Ever Fresh bakery in Anand. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but I enjoyed eating them for sure. My mom loved them a lot. I would only eat it those biscuits which had those little pieces of nut on the top, the ones that didn’t, I considered, didn’t merit my consumption. It is a childish thing to do, but then I was a kid then.
So, years later, when the foodie in me comes across a famous bakery in Satara that sells amazing Nankhatai’s, needless to say, I am tempted. Why wouldn’t I be?
For a little background, nankhatais are shortbread biscuits popular in India and Pakistan. The term Nankhatai has been derived from the Persian word – ‘naan’, meaning bread and ‘khatai’ which is an Afghan word meaning biscuit. In Afghanistan and Northern Iran, these biscuits are called Kulcha-e-Khataye.
Nankhatai is said to have originated in Surat, India in the 16th century. when the Dutch and the Indians were important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the meeds of the local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian. The bakery biscuits were disliked by the locals. To save the business, the new owner started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying more bread before even selling it. With time, this experiment turned into the nankhatai as we know it.
Palekar Bakery is a famous bakery in Satara, Maharashtra. IT was started in 1939 by Dadasaheb Palekar. He would study books and develop his own recipes. Today, the bakery is managed by Neelkanth Palekar, who is an alumni of the School of Baking of the erstwhile Gujarat Agricultural University (now Anand Agricultural University) and his son Pranav Palekar. And one of the most famous cookies they make are the nankhatais.
The Palekar nankhatais are firm and crisp. They are not smooth like the ones from Ever Fresh. One can sense a slight flavor of rose water in the nankhatai too. They have a great crunchy texture, provided you can safeguard it from the moisture in these monsoons, of course. My suggestion, keep it in the fridge, and then heat in for just 10-20 seconds in the microwave and have. This does change the flavor, but I love doing this for sure.
These are great nankhatai biscuits and I will definitely order them again. Thanks Palekar bakery!