Madan Nankhatai

Near State Bank, Alambagh

In 1947, Haveli Ram had to flee to Lucknow via Punjab during the Partition. His family included his 10-year-old son Madan. The nankhatai business began just about then. Haveli Ram set up a stand selling nankhatai in Aminabad. Business ws brisk. When he was a little older, Madan joined his father. Now Madan’s son Sonu is also occupied in the family business. The word ‘nankhatai’ is derived from Persian words ‘naan’ and ‘khitai;’ meaning ‘Chinese bread.’ However, it is widely held that this shortbread biscuit was invented in Surat (Gujarat) by a Dutch baker. The recipe comprised wheat and rice flour made into a batter with butter, powdered sugar, milk and flavoured with cardamom and baking soda. This was baked into shortbread cookies on a hot skillet. This is about the same in Lucknow. Often on winter evenings, pans of nankhatai warming or baking on a coal-fired stove can be seen selling like hot cakes as soon as they get done.