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  • Naan Kithai (Indian Shortbread Cookies)

    Naan Kithai (Indian Shortbread Cookies)

    These eggless cookies with spices like cardamom and saffron are an amazing accompaniment to spiced tea. We made a trip last year to India and on the street there was this man selling naan kithai. It was fascinating how he was baking them without an oven on a small cart, right there by the roadside. He just had charcoal, two tin plates, and dough. He threw the dough on one plate, put another plate on top, then put some charcoal on top of that, and in 15 minutes we had these delicious, buttery cookies. I had eaten these type of cookies before, but they never made such an impact on me.

    Servings & Time

    • Servings 16 to 20 cookies
    • Prep 35 minutes
    • Cook 30 minutes


    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • ¾ cup fine semolina
    • 1 cup confectioners sugar
    • ⅔ cup ghee
    • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
    • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
    • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
    • 1 teaspoon milk
    • 1 teaspoon plain yogurt
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    • Confectioners sugar, ground cardamom, and grated nutmeg, for garnish (optional)


    Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease a large baking sheet.

    Sift the flour and semolina together into a small bowl.

    In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, cream the confectioners sugar and ghee until light and creamy. Add the cardamom and nutmeg and beat until incorporated.

    Combine the saffron and milk in a small bowl and microwave for about 10 seconds to warm the milk and release the saffron’s flavor and color. Add to the creamed sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until the saffron is incorporated. Add the yogurt and baking soda and mix well. Add the flours and knead in the bowl into a thick, oily dough, similar to pie dough.

    Form the dough into 16 to 20 balls, 1- to 1 1/2-inch each.

    Place the balls on the baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart and gently press down to make domed rounds.

    Bake for 30 minutes, until the cookies are browned on the bottom (they won’t brown on the top because there’s no egg in the dough). Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    If you like, mix a pinch of cardamom and nutmeg in a sieve with confectioners sugar and sift over the cookies just before serving. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container.

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