Nankhatais are a traditional Indian biskoot, similar to shortbread. The word itself originates from the Persian word of Naan meaning bread and the Dari Persian word of Khatai meaning biscuit.
Nankhatai is thought to have been created in Surat during the 16th century when the Dutch and Indians were important spice traders. When they left India, the Dutch left their bakery to a local Parsi gentleman called Faramji Pestonji Dotivala. Over time, experimentation led to the creation of this tea time delicacy known as nankhatai. It is thought to have been inspired by a local sweet in Surat called ‘Dal’.
Many variations of nankhatai have been created over the years due to vast diaspora populations and its stronghold in different cultures. In Afghanistan and Northeastern Iran, they are called Kulcha-e-Khataye. They can be made with or without coconut, with or without cardamom (you’d add vanilla instead) as well as with or without eggs!