With huge thanks to Christine, I bring you installment number two of Christine’s Pink Carnation Cookery series!
This month, it’s Indian-inspired cookies in honor of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. (Which is doubly appropriate, since the modern portion of Blood Lily is set right around Valentine’s Day!)
And now over to Christine:
In Blood Lily, Penelope marries Freddie Staines and is sent off to Hyderabad, India, then engages in quite the spicy affair with Alex Reid. Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of Indian food. A lot of the spices used in Indian cooking just aren’t for me, so I looked at this month’s Pink cooking experiment as a personal challenge.
I Googled “Indian cookies” and it came back with a ton of hits for Nan Khatai. It looked easy and delicious, and it absolutely was. I know very little about Indian food, but the Internet tells me that these cookies are Indian buttery egg-less shortbread or sugar cookies that are often eaten with tea or coffee. I found a couple of different recipes that looked close enough to each other to use as a starting point – they have a few differences between them. The ingredients posted below are all from one recipe but I’ve also posted a link to the second recipe.
Ingredients (full recipe from Show Me the Curry):
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine powdered sugar, a little at a time, with butter until it is smooth and creamy.
3. Add nutmeg and cardamom and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, combine sifted flour with baking powder and salt.
5. Add flour mixture, a little at at time, to butter mixture until it forms a soft dough.
6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
7. Knead dough and divide into 12 equal parts.
8. Roll each of the 12 parts into a smooth ball and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Be sure to leave room between each cookie.
9. Bake for 22-25 minutes. The cookies should remain white.
10. Let cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.
If you go to the link, you’ll see that the picture has nuts on top of the cookies while the actual recipe leaves out the nuts. The second recipe I looked at, My Saffron Kitchen, does incorporate nuts, and also says to smash the cookies a bit before adding nuts. There are all kinds of variations online, including chocolate chip and peanut butter.
I cheated a bit and left out cardamom. I’ve always found cardamom to be a bit too powerful, so I stuck with just nutmeg. I also sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on top right after the cookies came out of the oven, while they were still hot.
I’ve always believed that baking is about personal preferences and learning – I regularly swap out ingredients from recipes if I think something else will work better for me. Why not? Baking is about having fun and sharing the love. I once took a wine tasting class in which the teacher said learning about wines is also learning about what you like, and I think that applies to baking too. In baking, as with wines, there’s no right answer as to what you “should” like. Don’t be overly concerned with following instructions to a tee; play around, add what you like, come up with something that’s unique to you. I altered this recipe a bit to suit my tastes, and now I have something new to add to my repertoire that I really like.
Thank you so much, Christine! I now know what I’ll be baking next….
(If you missed Part I, Eloise’s peppermint marzipan, just click here.)