Pistachio Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Cardamom Shortbread
There are some food flavors that stay with us all our lives, and haunt us when we haven’t met them in a while. The flavor of these Crumbly Pistachio-Cardamom Shortbread cookies is, for my hubby Desi, something like that.

Growing up in India, one of the fanciest cookies you could buy was a Nankhatai, a shortbread-textured cookie with an incredibly soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture and hints of cardamom and nuts. I loved these cookies, as did Desi who has a sweet tooth to beat all others.

For days now, he had been asking me to make him a cookie flavored with cardamom and pistachios, but I held back. While I have, in my pre-vegan days, made Nankhatai using ghee, I was not sure how it would turn out with vegan ingredients.

Yesterday, I decided to throw my fear to the winds. Drawing upon my own recipe for No-Butter Almond Shortbread Cookies, which have the same crumbly texture as Nankhatai, I substituted with pistachios instead of almonds and added a teaspoonful of cardamom.

A few small changes of ingredients, and the cookies turned out perfect! The pistachio gives these cookies a lovely, barely-green color and the flavor is to die for.

Desi loved them, but I too couldn’t keep my hand out of the cookie jar!

Pistachio Cardamom Shortbread

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pistachio-Cardamom Shortbread Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 2⅓ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp) zero-trans-fat vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup (8 tbsp) canola oil
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp of cornstarch mixed well with 2 tbsp water
  • ⅓ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pistachio nuts, powdered fine in a food processor or spice grinder, and a few whole ones
  1. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the shortening, canola oil and sugar together until light and white and fluffy
  2. Add the cornstarch-water mixture, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and blend well until mixture is smooth.
  3. Add flour, cardamom powder and pistachio powder and mix.
  4. Roll into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter, and place on a greased cookie sheet, one inch apart. Press down slightly to form discs. Press a pistachio, whole or half, into the center of each cookie.
  5. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 11-12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking. Remove when the cookies have a hint of golden-brown color on top.
  6. Place the baking sheet on a rack and let the cookies cool completely before removing them gently with a ladle.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. Latha says

    They do look crumbly, Vaishali:) What is a pastry flour, please? Is it the normal whole-wheat flour or with baking powder added?

  2. says

    Hi Latha, Thanks! Whole-wheat pastry flour is made using the whole grain of a soft white wheat. It has lower gluten content and is therefore perfect to bake cookies, cakes and muffins (it’s not delicate enough for really white cakes, though). Also, since the whole grain is used to make this flour, it has lots more dietary fiber and protein, unlike all-purpose flour.
    If you don’t have access to whole-wheat pastry flour, though, just use all-purpose flour or even maida.
    I hope that helps :)

  3. Latha says

    Thanks for the clear explanation:) I think i know now what you mean. Because I live in Germany the flour names are a bit confusing… but now I know what I should use.

  4. Anonymous says

    Hi Vaishali

    I read online 1 tbsp cornstarch can be replaced by 2tbsp all purpose flour. In that case do you think I need to increase the quantity of water as well?

    Thank you

  5. says

    Hi Anonymous, Yes increase the water proportionately — 4 tbsp of all purpose would need 4 tbsp water. I haven’t tried replacing cornstarch with all-purpose flour in a cookie recipe before, but hope it works! :)

  6. says

    Thank you Vaishali, these are delicious!! Yes, they are crumbly when you eat them – short as anything – but they don’t fall to bits in your hand.

  7. says

    Vaishali, I’m a great fan of your recipies, creativity using all Indian spices into vegan baking. One small concern though, isn’t shortening unhealthy? I’m not 100% vegan, I follow your recipes 99% time, occasionaly do eggless baking, that time use butter/yogurt. If I don’t want to use shortening, can I substitute with exact amount butter in this recipe? In that case, do I need to have cornstarch in it, can I skip that?

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