From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...At this time of year, the Silver Fox and I begin to winnow our list of potential holiday destinations. Our choices this year are more constrained because safety considerations have to be factored into the final decision. Friends, still in foreign service, have advised us to avoid Indonesia, Russia and Egypt. Remaining on the list are various possibilities that include an extended tour of European cities, an Alpine trek, a safari in Tanzania and, at the top of both our lists, Antarctica, which we would both do in a New York minute if we can massage the finances needed for the journey. Bob would also like to revisit Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. These countries have a charm all their own and they are hard to forget. Pokhara, in Nepal, is, and I suspect will remain one of my favorite places on earth. Most Himalayan treks and climbs begin here and the town is surrounded by mountains of aching beauty. It is also the area from which the Gurkhas come and many of them return here to retire. It goes without saying that the crime rate in Pokhara is quite low. Gurkhas have been part of the British Army for almost 200 years, and the bravery and prowess of these Nepalese warriors has never been questioned. They have a strict code of honor and believe "it is better to die than be a coward." A retired colonel who hiked with us shared his belief that all warriors carry within them an expiration date. Rather than try to change that a Gurkha is trained to be ready for it. We were in Pokhara for the Hindu feast of Diwali which celebrates the victory of light over darkness and we able to sample all the special foods associated with the holiday. The cookie I'm featuring tonight is an eggless shortbread that is a Diwali favorite. The cookies are delicious and easy to make. Here is the recipe.
Nankhatai...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter or ghee, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardomom
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Cashews (Pistachios, almonds or raisins can be substituted)
1) Combine butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Cream mixture until it is light and fluffy.
2) Sift all the dry ingredients (flour, cardamom powder, baking powder and salt) into a separate bowl.
3) Slowly add dry mixture to creamed butter mixture to combine. Knead to form a soft dough. Cover dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
4) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Make small gooseberry sized balls of the dough. Smooth balls by rolling in palm of your hand. You can also roll dough and use a cookie cutter to shape cookies.
5) Place balls on a cookie sheet. Leave some space in between as cookies will expand as they bake. Press a pistachio or raisin or cashew or almond on top of each cookie.
6) Bake at 300 degrees for 12-15 minutes until bottom of cookies turn light golden brown.
7) Remove from oven and gently transfer cookies to a cooling rack. The cookies will be very soft at this stage. Cookies may be stored in a airtight container for up to a month. Yield: 2 dozen cookies.
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