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Lemony Pistachio Shortbread or Nankhatai – A Crumbly Christmas Cookie

23 December 2011 36 Comments

Lemony Pistachio Shortbread or Nankhatai

“And please make it 100 plus cookies’ added hubby dear hurriedly. “We have been browsing loads of scrumptious recipes on your wife’s blog for long but nothing has come to us, is she really making all those that we see in the pictures, sir?” was the query from one of the co-workers from his office which made me go for this marathon baking session. When your reputation as a food blogger is at stake numbers hardly matter 🙂

After pondering over the quality vs quantity of the numerous recipes I had in mind, I zeroed upon these Lemony Shortbread. These cookies are quite simple to bake and can be easily transformed into exotic treats with very little efforts & variations, and stays good for many days so that you can make them ahead of time.

These shortbreads or Nankhatai as we call them in India are buttery and melt-in-mouth crumbly cookies. The recipe is quite simple with just three main ingredients to go in it, flour, butter and sugar with all the three in almost equal proportion. I added Pistachio powder in the cookie dough and a few drops of lemon extract which gave a wonderful nutty taste with a delightful citrus flavor to these shortbreads.

I normally use the standard proportion of equal quantity of flour, sugar and butter ratio for making crisp & crumbly Nankhatai. But this time I added a tbsp. yogurt to the dough which in turn helped me reduce my butter in the cookies. And I did not find a big change either in the texture or the taste of the cookies.

Lemony Pistachio Shortbread or Nankhatai


(makes 24)

  •  1 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup semolina
  • ¼ cup fine Pistachio powder
  • ¾ cup or little less butter/ghee
  • 1 tbsp. yogurt/curd
  • 1 tbsp. coarse pistachio powder to garnish
  • A few saffron strands (optional)
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • A few drops of lemon extract or ¼ tsp. lemon zest

Lemony Pistachio Shortbread or Nankhatai

Method; Preheat the oven to 180°C for 10 minutes.

Add flour, semolina and pistachio powder in a large vessel and mix well.

Take another vessel and add butter/ghee, powder sugar, baking powder and yogurt in it. Whisk all the ingredients for 10 minutes till the mixture is light and fluffy.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry flour mix, add lemon extract or lemon zest, saffron strands if using and knead all into smooth and soft dough.

Take out small piece of dough and roll it into small balls, flatten it slightly and press a little of coarsely ground pistachio powder in the center.

Lemony Pistachio Shortbread or Nankhatai

Make all the cookies in the similar way and arrange them in a baking tray leaving a little gap between each cookie.

Bake the lemony shortbread at 180°C for about 15 minutes or till the sides start to turn golden. These goodies will be mostly white in color when fully baked.

Lemony Pistachio Shortbread or Nankhatai

Pack these Lemony shortbread in decorative boxes for a wonderful gift to your friends and family. I have reached half way through my cookie marathon, wish me luck to complete the task. My Christmas cakes are in the oven and will probably post the recipe with the celebration at a friends’ house in a couple of days 🙂

Happy festive greetings, have a fun filled merry Christmas to all!


  1. If you wish to skip the yogurt in the recipe, increase the butter in it to form a soft dough.
  2. While rolling the cookies you will find lots of cracks in it, ignore it if it does not hamper the baking process and retain the shape.
  3. If you wish to make saffron Nankhatai, just dissolve a few strands of saffron in warm milk and add it to the dough.
  4. Try a variation of orange Nankhatai using orange extract or orange zest.
  5.  Chickpea flour is also added to the flour mix to make Nankhatai, replace semolina with chickpea flour (besan).
  6. These cookies stay good for many days and make a perfect gift option.



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  • Michael said:

    I love these cookies. Had similar ones on my travels to Bengaluru (Bangalore). Will make these in my holidays. 🙂

  • Priti said:

    Looks very delicious and nice pics

  • Nishi said:

    Awesome Nankathais Sanjeeta. and beautiful pictures to go with it as well. Looks amazing 🙂
    Nishi recently posted..Puri sihikarne aka Puri AamrasMy Profile

  • Simone said:

    O lol. I can imagine the reactions of those men complaining. My dad is the same. He sees all those treats pass by and sweet tooth that he is he expects something everytime I visit. Great disappointment if I don’t bring anything! He would totally love these shortbread cookies! It can always amaze me how putting a few ingredients together can produce such delicious treats!
    Simone recently posted..Tequila granita with cucumber and limeMy Profile

  • chinmayie @ love food eat said:

    Beautiful cookies…. I have never made nankatai so will try this recipe for sure 🙂

  • a spoonful of yumm said:

    the opening lines are hilarious ! love the bell…its been a longtime since i had nankhatai. the cookies look yummy, i could eat so many of these..
    a spoonful of yumm recently posted..Banana Nutella Pancake Layer Cake with Whipped Cream & StrawberriesMy Profile

  • sumi said:

    yummy cookies sanjeeta..tempting pictures..Happy holidays to u and your family
    sumi recently posted..Almond BiscottiMy Profile

  • Only Fish Recipes said:

    wow…I love nan khatais….love the cookies…happy holidays to u n ur family 🙂

  • anu said:

    wow drool over your shortbread cookies…awesome pics dear…

    anu recently posted..Peppery Salmon with CilantroMy Profile

  • Junia @ Mis Pensamientos said:

    sanjeeta! i love cookies that are nice, plump, and soft! 😀 these would instantly be a winner to me b/c of the texture! pistachios are awesome, great touch! have u added them to our #cookielove bloghop yet? 🙂
    Junia @ Mis Pensamientos recently posted..Tahini SaladMy Profile

  • EA-The Spicy RD said:

    LOVE the flavors in these cookies Sanjeeta!! I’ve never seen pistachio powder before…Would finely ground pistachios work equally well? Can’t wait to try making a gluten-free version of these beauties!
    EA-The Spicy RD recently posted..Recipe ReDux: Minty Cilantro PeasMy Profile

  • sanjeeta kk (author) said:

    @EA Yes I did the same, coarsely ground the Pistachios for garnishing and finely ground for the dough.

  • Deeba Rajpal (@vindee) said:

    Pretty … very pretty!! Delicious looking cookies Sanjeeta! Gret flavour combination.
    Deeba Rajpal (@vindee) recently posted..Holiday Baking| Christmas Fruit Mince Pies …My Profile

  • ash said:

    Tell me about the cookies and the talks at hubby’s work, I just baked 4 dozen cookies for the holiday party. The pic makes me drool and its good that we can just admire the cookies and not eat them or else all food bloggers would be easily identifiable in a crowd. thanks god for the lack of that technology. Happy holidays and have fun with your loved ones.
    Love Ash.
    ash recently posted..Dal MakhaniMy Profile

  • Deepa said:

    Delicious and crispy looking nankhatais. Excellent recipe.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  • Priya said:

    Wow those nankhatais looks absolutely stunning and damn cute..
    Priya recently posted..Eggless Cinnamon Orange CakeMy Profile

  • Sukanya said:

    Who can say no to these yummy nankhatais..looks so pretty, just melt in mouth kind..
    Sukanya recently posted..Chocolate coconut slicesMy Profile

  • Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb said:

    Your nankhatai look so gorgeous! I love the idea of adding some yoghurt, saffron and Pistachios. I love those cookies for christmas w mak them here for christmas too. I actually had postd some days ago our nankhatai family recipe on my blog. =)

  • Maayeka said:

    Looks very tempting and delicious..with a little twist in the flavour…great recipe..
    Maayeka recently posted..Spicy Jingle ballsMy Profile

  • Joanne said:

    Mmm I LOVE lemony desserts! These cookies sound super addictive.
    Joanne recently posted..Recipe: White Chocolate Gingerbread Cake BallsMy Profile

  • Terra said:

    I love how people want us to make goodies for them, being a food blogger rocks! 🙂 These cookies look so delicate, and beautiful! I love the addition of saffron strands, so much fun:-) Just gorgeous, Hugs, Terra
    Terra recently posted..Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cheesecake – {With Chobani Greek Yogurt!}My Profile

  • Faith said:

    Your cookies are gorgeous! And they sound so tasty with all the special things in them (especially saffron!).
    Faith recently posted..Butter-Rum Brown Sugar Cake & Merry Christmas!My Profile

  • Deeps @ Naughty Curry said:

    nice idea, to put lemon.. skikes up a traditional recipe
    Deeps @ Naughty Curry recently posted..The Best Brownie Ever – with boozy Salted Caramel CenterMy Profile

  • Liz said:

    Beautiful cookies!! I look forward to ringing in the new year with your virtual party! Just joined over on Lora’s blog 🙂
    Liz recently posted..Holiday Sweets~My Profile

  • crystal said:

    My hubby just love to eat nankhatais and I was looking for a perfect recipe and I’ve just tried with your process and its really made very tempting and all my family members liked these very much!!!

  • raquel said:

    this cookie is so pretty and I think the taste is also scrumptious

  • Julie M. said:

    This is a truly beautiful cookie Sanjeeta! I love pistachio and the lemon addition makes for a perfect flavor combination. It has been such a pleasure getting to know you this year and I look forward to sharing many more delicious endeavors in 2012.
    Julie M. recently posted..Cocoa-Nut Whoopie Pies with Whipped Pink Peppermint FillingMy Profile

  • Ambika said:

    Wow Sanjeeta! Loved the lemony twist to the nankhattais! Happy Holidays 🙂
    Ambika recently posted..Mini Corn Cakes (Tikki) & Anjum’s New Indian cookbook giveawayMy Profile

  • mjskit said:

    My niece is on a cookie making craze and I know she’ll love these! I’m going to send her the recipe so she can make me some. 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!
    mjskit recently posted..Feta and Garlic DipMy Profile

  • Rosa said:

    So pretty and delicious looking! Those cookies are wonderful.

    Best wishes for 2012!



  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said:

    Love a light melt in your mouth cookie like these!
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen recently posted..Truffle Butter, Parmesan and Thyme Popcorn | A Popcorn and Champagne PairingMy Profile

  • vianney said:

    How funny, my hubby’s coworkers always ask for goodies.. these look amazing!!
    vianney recently posted..Roasted Grape MargaritaMy Profile

  • Magic of Spice said:

    These are spectacular!
    Wishing you an amazing 2012, hugs!
    Magic of Spice recently posted..What’s for Lunch? Winter Citrus Salad with Currants and Goat CheeseMy Profile

  • Suma said:

    Lovely cookies Sanjeeta, pistachios and lemon, yumm! Loved your pictures as well, thanks a lot for sending these to my event!
    Suma recently posted..New Bittersweet Brownies – We Turn Two!My Profile

  • torviewtoronto said:

    delicious looking nankathai looks wonderful following you on twitter
    torviewtoronto recently posted..Cucumber saladMy Profile

  • veena Aravind said:

    Anything lemony attracts me !!The combination is so good. pista n lemon..is a pretty new combination to me..The cookies look too good..

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