Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Osmania biscuits: Cookies with a unique taste

By Mohammed Shafeeq
They say Hyderabad is famous for biryani, sherwani and gandipet ka pani but the list many not be just confined to the mouth watering dish, the ethnic attire and the water from Gandipet, as the Osman Sagar reservoir is popularly known.

The historic city is also famous for pearls, haleem, Charminar, Golconda Fort and many opulent palaces of the nizams. Osmania University and Osmania Hospital are also historic landmarks but the city is identified with another Made in Osmania – cookies.

A soft tea biscuit with a unique taste, it is part of a daily life in Hyderabad. For Hyderabadis, a lot happens over Osmania biscuits and the popular Irani chai. There is no bakery or hotel which does not sell this delicacy. In fact for the bakeries this is the fastest moving item on the shelf.

It is the favourite tea time snack for people here. For many a chai is incomplete without these crispy biscuits. It’s a must when you want to have tea with friends. Equally favourite with young and old, it is a preferred delicacy to treat the guests at home.

The first thing many visitors do on their arrival in the city is to relish the delicious sugar-salt biscuit, which melts in the mouth.

At popular bakeries and hotels, tourists and those going abroad can be seen ordering Osmania for their relatives and friends.

There are various stories as to how this biscuit originated and how it got the name Osmania.

It is said that the biscuit is named after Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nnizam and the last ruler of Hyderabad state. He used to like the biscuits made at a popular restaurant in the Abids main shopping thoroughfare and the owners of the restaurant began calling it Osmania biscuit.

Some others say that the biscuits were named Osmania as they were first made in Osmania Hospital, which was established by Osman Ali Khan in 1910.

A group of dieticians is said to have come out with the formula to provide an energy supplement to patients. Soon, it became popular due to its taste and bakeries and hotels started making it.

Today almost every bakery and hotel in Hyderabad makes Osmania. But a few are hot favourites of the people.

Subhan bakery, Nimrah, Karachi bakery and Bahar hotels are some of them. “What makes this biscuit most popular is that it is a mix of both sweet and salt,” says Syed Irfan of Subhan bakery.

This nearly 70-year-old bakery located in Nampally teems with shoppers, especially during evenings when hot and fresh biscuits arrive on the shelves.

“We make more than one tonne of Osmania biscuits every day,” Irfan, a third-generation businessman, told IANS.

The bakery also supplies the biscuits to cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai.

Though Osmania is a favourite for all seasons, sales particularly go up during winter when people enjoy this with hot tea.

Nimrah Cafe near the historic Charminar is another popular place. From a petty trader doing business on the footpath to a tourist visiting Charminar, everybody relishes the cookies with chai. From early morning to till late in the night, the cafe does brisk business.

The biscuit is made of maida mixed with sugar, salt, milk powder, ghee, baking powder, and other ingredients.

“We don’t compromise on quality and supply the biscuits hot and fresh,” Obaid Bin Aboos of Nimrah Bakery and Cafe told IANS, adding that he had maintained the same quality and taste for 23 years.

Traders also buy Osmania from Nimrah for their business in various parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

(21.11.2014 – Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at [email protected])

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