Nimra café near Charminar is busy as ever. Over the din and bustle, a man hollers –single chai aur Osmania lana. A few minutes later the waiter places a plate of biscuits and ‘chai' before him along with finger-dipped glasses of water. The guy takes time savouring the Osmania biscuits and then washes it down with ‘chai'.
In scores of hotels across the City, this is the favourite tea time snack. In bakeries too, Osmania biscuits are the fastest moving delicacy on the shelf. ‘Bun-maska', ‘dil-pasand' and ‘samosa' may be the typical local flavours, but Osmania biscuit is what Hyderabad is readily identified with. In fact the first thing many do on arriving in the City is to experience the ‘zaiqa' of Osmania.
Delicious and crispy, it simply melts into the mouth. Its taste is heightened when taken with authentic Irani ‘chai'. To many like Gaffar Qureshi, tea time is incomplete without the soft Osmania biscuits. Strangely, it is popular with adults and children alike and in many homes guests are treated to Osmania.
Subhan bakery in Nampally is the favourite haunt of Osmania lovers. “We deliver the biscuits to different parts of the State and sell about a tonne per day,” says Irfan of Subhan bakery.
Like other Hyderabadi cuisine, Osmania biscuit too is a princely legacy. The biscuit is named after Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam. He liked the biscuits made at Vicaji Hotel, a popular restaurant those days at Abids, so much that every evening a car from Nazari Bagh used to fetch the biscuits for him.
Pleased with the royal patronage, the hotel named the biscuit ‘Osmania' and the name has stuck long after the Nizamian era is over. The hotel is believed to have worked out the biscuit taste to the Nizam's liking by reducing the salt content and making it slightly sugary.
For all seasons
Despite numerous mouth-watering cookies flooding the market, Osmania biscuit still holds its own. Whatever the season, it remains the most popular tea-time snack. Be it a private programme or official function, one can't do without this yummy stuff.
So, how about a cuppa with Osmania?