Cakes & Cookies

Old Delhi bakery jeera biscuits

I’m on a major nostalgia trip these days. While chatting up a friend yesterday over some cookies and cake post dinner, we got talking about the kind of simple biscuits (what are cookies anyway, but a fancy American slang for biscuits!) that one could buy at the neighbourhood bakery, think butter biscuits, coconut biscuits, jam biscuits and what not. My friend was talking about how a common friend of ours once polished off an entire jar of butter biscuits at a roadside tea-shop!

 While butter biscuits happen to be perennial favourites, I have a special place in my heart for jeera (cumin) biscuits and nan-khatai (a more crumbly version of the butter biscuit with a cardamom flavour). My father used to regularly bring home jeera biscuits from a bakery close to his office and I still remember the taste of those biscuits.

Nan-khatais were typically peddled by hawkers on pushcarts. I don’t really remember if nan-khatai were (or is) available at bakeries. I fell in love with the nan-khatais that were sold outside the office of the Pioneer newspaper in Delhi that my college friend used to get when she was interning there.

I found a bit of paper in a cookbook today with recipes scribbled for both. While I think the jeera biscuit was adapted from a blog that credited the recipe to some Nita Mehta book, I don’t remember where I took the nan-khatai down from.
While the jeera biscuit tasted exactly like the stuff I’ve had at local bakeries, the nan-khatai, although good, was more like a typical butter biscuit. Try both and tell me how you liked these. The best part is that can be prepared in a jiffy – around 20 mins to get the dough ready plus baking time. That’s it!

Jeera Biscuits

Jeera Biscuits

Old Delhi bakery-style Jeera Biscuit
(makes around 15 biscuits)

Maida – 1 ¼ cups
Softened Butter – 25 gm (at room temp)+ Oil – 25 ml (the recipe called for 85 gm butter)
Salt – ½ tsp (add just a pinch if you’re using salted butter)
Sugar (powdered) – 25 gm
Jeera (Cumin seeds) – 1/2 tsp
Baking powder – ¼ tsp

Preheat oven to 175 deg C
Mix maida, sugar, salt, jeera (cumin seeds) and baking powder
Add butter/oil a little at a time. Stop when the dough starts coming together. You can add additional butter or oil by the teaspoon, if your dough doesn’t hold shape even when you pinch it
Drop little balls (roughly the quantity that’ll fit into a 1tbsp scoop) slightly flattened on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 mins (it took me 20 mins to get the perfect texture)


Nan khatai with raisins

Nan khatai with raisins

Nan Khatai (Butter biscuits with cardamom flavor)
(makes around 15 biscuits)

Maida – 1 cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Butter/ghee – as much as is required to get a pliable dough, around 100 gm
Salt – ¼ tsp (leave out if you’re using salted butter)
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Baking powder – ½ tsp

Preheat oven to 175 deg C
Mix maida, salt, cardamom and baking powder
Add half the quantity of sugar and taste the mix. Add more as required
Add butter/oil a little at a time. Stop when the dough starts coming together
Drop little balls (roughly the quantity that’ll fit into a 1tbsp scoop) slightly flattened on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 mins
NOTE: These biscuits tend to spread out lots, so don’t flatten them out too much. Leave an inch of space between two biscuit dough balls


17 thoughts on “Old Delhi bakery jeera biscuits

  1. Pingback: Timer Hen assists my Cookie-adventure « foodiliciousnan

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  3. Im making ZEERA biscut by ur recipe and it did not look gud. . How can u make biscuts with out eggs??
    I expect reply frm u. Thanks. Yawar. Karachi.

    • Hi Yawar. I’m really sorry the biscuits did not turn out fine for you. I make these quite often with this recipe and they turn out quite well for me. Can you tell me what exactly went wrong? Did you measure out the ingredients properly? you could write to me at if you have a lengthy query

      • Can you please share the recipe for wheat biscuits that were available in Delhi, these were sweet, rectangle, with design of rough lines on each biscuits. made of wheat and milk. I have tried for years now to get those biscuits from many bakeries, not satisfied with the taste.

  4. Pingback: Half Whole Wheat Chocolate Cookies | foodiliciousnan

  5. Hi, I laughed like crazy reading about your ‘Timer Hen’ comments…you are so funny…I have been looking very badly for the ‘Bakery Style’ Jeera Butter biscuits which I miss so much…are these the same Jeera Butters or this is some different version…I need the authentic recipe coz I miss those dunk in tea Jeera butters so much…heard from someone that they use Shahi Jeera in it…please let me know.
    Devi : )

  6. Hi Devi, the jeera biscuits definitely taste like the jeera biscuits my dad bought for me from Delhi when I was a kid. Of course, bakeries use dalda/margerine to make biscuits. I’ve used a combination of butter and oil, here. I also use butter entirely or even ghee, or any combination of these. All the versions taste very good. The flavour and texture will vary slightly between each of these. If you plan to dunk them in tea, you might need to add at least 80-100 gm of fat to make the dough pliable enough to roll out and cut into squares or circles (that are basically more dip-friendly shapes). Hope this helps. Let me know how these turn out for you

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