N for Nankhatais

No Christmas at home would be complete without these little powdery sugar pillows that melt in the mouth. It’s Nana’s recipe that mum modified. I’ve changed it slightly too. After all, every generation has to do its bit to claim ownership!

Christmas frenzy used to hit us on the 21st of December, when schools usually closed for the annual Christmas break. From then on, it was a countdown to Christmas, and to having everything ready by Christmas eve and Santa’s visit. The tree usually went up first – the ornaments carefully unwrapped from the decades old tissue paper they were preserved in and the more modern lights twinkling in the dark, in anticipation of the festivities.

Next came the coconut toffee, something my mum made herself and hid away from prying fingers. Cake and cheese straws were next on the list. We must have helped with these but my memory fails me here. I do remember tasting the cake batter though, and wondering why we need bake it at all.

Nankhatais, favourites with my sister and I, were made last, and usually just after dinner on the 24th. I remember mum teaching us how to roll and shape these, and telling us off for pinching some of the dough – under the guise of testing if they were sweet enough. This last minute effort ensured that mum could bake them while we were asleep, dreaming of presents that Santa would leave at the foot of our bed. That was, I suppose, the only way they could have lasted till Christmas.

Cut to a generation later, Nankhatais have found a new fan in our four year old, who calls them ‘snowmen cookies’. His doting grandmother always obliges, and he doesn’t even have to wait all year long. 🙂

N for Nankhatais

N for Nankhatais


200 grams all purpose flour (maida)

150 grams sugar

150 grams ghee or shortening, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Cream the ghee and sugar together.
  2. Add the flour and the baking powder and mix well ensuring that you don’t over mix the dough.
  3. Lay a sheet of parchment paper each on two baking trays.
  4. Shape the dough into small balls and press them down slightly. Make a little indent on the top of the cookie dough, with you finger.
  5. Place the trays in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes to chill the dough.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180 C.
  7. When the dough is chilled and firm, place the baking trays in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  8. The nankhatais are ready when you can see the rim of the base turning golden.
  9. Take the tray out of the oven. Cool the cookies down.
  10. Store in an airtight tin.


Nankhatais are also made with spices and nuts. If you prefer this option, add 1/2 a teaspoon of powdered cardamom and a pinch of nutmeg to the flour.

You can also garnish with nuts.

I’ve made our Christmas version, white as the snow they represent. 🙂

About The Weekend Baker

Weekend baker, Yoga enthusiast, curious cook, collector of cookbooks and traditional recipes. Stop by and say Hello!
This entry was posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts, Festive food, Goan cuisine and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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