The Last Nizam and his everlasting Osmania biscuits

The last Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan was the wealthiest man in India during his time but few called him stingy too

The Last Nizam and his everlasting Osmania biscuits

HYDERABAD: The last Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan was the wealthiest man in India during his time but few called him stingy too. The architect of Hyderabad also had a soft side of him that very few people knew.

He was probably the only ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad who was gifted innumerable articles by the people that he ruled for 37 years. The gifts the ruler received from his people are on display in the lesser-known Nizam Museum in Purani Haveli of Old City.

He was credited with the establishment of Osmania University, Osmania General Hospital, State Bank of Hyderabad, Nizam Sagar and of course the quintessential Hyderabadi tea time snack the Osmania Biscuit.

The biscuit named after Mir Osman Ali, was first created by the dietitians at the Osmania General Hospital as a dietary supplement for patients admitted to the hospital. The crispy, slightly salty, and sweet biscuits were an instant hit with the patients and their attendants. A few biscuits that were smuggled out of the hospital were replicated by bakeries in the vicinity of the hospital and the rest is history.

Nizam loved them

Nizam had a particular liking for the Osmania biscuits made at the Vicaji Bakery a popular restaurant at Abids those days. “Nizam was so fond of the biscuits which were not named after him at that time that every day a van was sent from Hazari Bagh to the Vicaji bakers to fetch a freshly baked pack of biscuits for the Nizam,” Syed Akbar a noted journalist and historian told NewsTAP.

Actually, Nizam wanted more sweetness and less salt in the biscuits. The changes were carried out and the recipe thus got standardised. Initially prepared to help the patients gain weight, each serving of 100 grams contains a hefty amount of total fat, around 32 grams, 16 grams of saturated fat, 670 mg of sodium, six grams of dietary fibre, eight grams of sugar and seven grams of protein among others.

Nizam-era eateries that made a roaring business selling these biscuits as a side dish of ‘Irani Chai’ carried out their own alterations to the original recipe but the dunking Osmania is still loved by everyone.

According to a travel blog - Flavours of India: a travelogue on Hyderabad authentic recipe, ingredients to make Osmania biscuits at home require all-purpose flour, butter at room temperature, vegetable shortening: three tablespoons, powdered sugar, salt, sweetened condensed milk, corn flour, custard powder, dry milk powder or milk, and cardamom.

The Osmania Biscuits, now a cultural identity of Hyderabad like the Biryani, Haleem, Irani Chai, Phirni and Mirch Ka Salan, can be ordered online from almost all e-commerce platforms like Amazon. The Madina, Alpha, New Grand, Pista House, Royale Café and Niloufer hotels churn out huge quantities of these biscuits every single day providing highly nutritious but light on-stomach biscuits for people on the move.

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