We have worked with Chintal Kakaya for 4 years and are addicted to her delicious Nankhatai biscuits. These are just perfect to pair with our Masala Chai for a truly authentic Indian afternoon tea or mid morning snack. Chintal is a British Asian entrepreneur who has turned her passion for cooking into a business that she runs along her demanding day job. Here is her story and the history behind those delicious Nankhatai treats.
Hi I’m Chintal, I am a mum to 2 beautiful kids ( Nishil and Yalana), an advocate for my son who has Autism and a wife to my wonderful husband Manoj.
By profession I am a Senior Occupational Therapist and currently work for the NHS Rapid response team. Alongside this I run my business Chinskitchen- An Artisan Boutique Bakery specialising in creating award winning Nankhatai ( spiced Indian shortbreads).
I am a fun, chai loving ( like seriously chai has to be on point), creative and loving soul. My profession is my purpose and my Business is my passion, but it doesn’t stop there…… I am on my spiritual journey and have found new love for meditation and Yoga. Oh and not to forget .. I am a huge fan of Tea India Real Masala Chai and their other varieties. A must have in your handbags ?
I was born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya, my childhood was surrounded by a close-knit community who loved preparing and sharing food especially during special occasions. Early memories of me stepping into the kitchen are watching my mum create amazing cakes out of simple ingredients and literally using a wooden spoon and bowl. From visiting the flour mill to purchase freshly ground wheat flour to visiting the dairy shop to pick up freshly churned butter, a truly nostalgic experience.
Now as a mum myself, I love cooking and baking with my kids. Baking has been therapy not only for me but for my son too, I utilised my skills as an OT and my passion for baking to develop a bond with him and assist his development in areas of attention, sensory integration, gross motor and fine motor.
As a keen cook and baker, mostly every weekend used to be hosting gatherings at home for friends or family. It was then when people kept asking me to share some of my recipes. In 2013, after the birth of my daughter, I set up Chinskitchen as a Vegetarian Fusion blog, a platform where I could share my creations for others to follow and create at home. This proved to be very successful, in return I started getting requests for Cake orders as I was sharing unique ideas and recipes.
My quest for setting up Chinskitchen as a business started, however, I was after a good ecommerce based business which meant being able to create products that were easy to post out. A product that wasn’t perishable, could be packed nicely and be enjoyed by others. This was the Eureka moment for me, to introduce Nankhatai to a wider audience.
As a child I used to love receiving these delicate cookies usually indented with a colourful thumb print and garnished with colourful sprinkles. The more I thought about it, the more I could taste the flavours in my mouth, looking through my mum’s hand written recipe books I came across her Nankhatai recipe. I trialed it but still wasn’t happy…why? Purely because I felt something was missing.
I wanted to create a product that would evoke nostalgic memories for those who have had these before but also make it appealing for those who have never had it. Wanted it to be something in between a traditional shortbread and an Indian shortbread. After several trials and testing the market, I hit the jackpot recipe and created our all butter, melt in the mouth, fragrant Indian shortbreads in a variety of flavours.
In 2016 Chinskitchen Online shop opened, we scooped The Guild of Fine Foods Taste Awards for our top flavours: Almond and Pistachio , Rose and cardamom.
So what is the history of Nankhatai?
The history of the Nankhatai in India is quite interesting. Towards the end of the 16th century, a couple of Dutch guys set up a bakery in Surat (India) to cater to the needs of the local Dutch population.
When the Dutch were leaving India, the owners handed over the bakery to a very enterprising employee, a Parsi gentleman Faramji Pestonji Dotivala. Since the bread was made with palm toddy for fermentation, it didn’t find favour with the local Indians.
In order to save his bakery, Mr. Dotivala started selling the old bread and puff, which became dried, at a really cheap price. This dried version became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. Later, the dried version came to be known as the ‘Irani Biscuit’.
Dotivala, then created the Farmasu Surti Batasa or “butter biscuits”, which are still very popular. He also created the now famous Nankhatai as an interpretation of a local sweet from Surat called ‘Dal’ and also inspired by the Irani or Afghan Khatai. With migration, nankhatai travelled into East Africa as well as different parts of India.
Traditionally nankhatai are baked on open flame over a skillet and you can still find vendors on the street corners of India selling these with Masala Chai
At Chinskitchen, we take great pride in the quality of our products, all our ingredients are carefully selected for their purity and quality. Our spices such as Cardamom is from Guatemala, Saffron used is Grade 1 which is intense in flavour and colour, Vanilla from Madagascar….
Our process for making our delicious shortbreads is quite laborious as each piece is hand rolled before being baked, quality control at every stage is paramount and we only make in small batches to ensure our clients receive quality and freshness. Once baked and cooled, all our Nankhatai are hand packed into beautiful packaging before being posted out. They have a shelf life of 6 months from production date and offer 4 most popular flavours which are:
- Almond and pistachio *- Great Taste Gold Star
- Rose- Great Taste Gold Star
- Coco vanilla
All Nankhatai are eggless, *- contains nuts
So historically, Nankhatai has always been served with chai and this tradition continues. Tea India “Masala Chai” is the perfect accompaniment to our Nankhatai. The warming and soul soothing blend of spices used in Masala Chai truly compliment the flavours of our Nankhatai.
It is easy to host a Afternoon Tea with Tea India’s Real Chai and our selection of Nankhatai as there is something suitable for all palates.
On that note… We have realised we have either dunkers or non dunkers. Which one are you?
Our next blog will contain a delicious recipe for you to try at home.