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Osmania Biscuits: Delicious Indian Treats from Karachi!

Discover the intricacies behind the Osmania biscuits from Hyderabad! "What are they? Are they healthy? Who is their largest distributor? Do they contain a lot of calories?

Osmania biscuits: What are they and are they healthy?

As already mentioned, Osmania biscuits are famous biscuits from Hyderabad, India. To put it more precisely, they are famous tea biscuits, hence they pair well with tea... and I don't think I have to explain just how much the people of India love their tea!

But what are tea biscuits exactly? Well, as their name implies, they are usually hard and plain biscuits which pair rather well with different kinds of tea. In fact, it is recommended you pair your tea biscuits with tea, since they're really not that great on their own due to the fact that they're really hard, which can be especially off-putting for those more inclined towards soft biscuits and cookies.

However, such biscuits are also designed for dunking into tea. What this means is that once the biscuits are dunked, they become soft as does their texture, which makes for a rather pleasant snack. Not only that, but both the taste of the biscuits and the tea combine, which makes for a rich palette of different flavours. Take Rich Tea biscuits for example, which are some of the most "dunkable" biscuits there are!

Another interesting thing to note about the Osmania biscuits is that they're both sweet and salty. Many people scoff at the idea of sweet and salty food, but you'd be surprised how well such snacks, dishes and desserts can turn out! As with all things, don't knock it 'till you try it!

Osmania biscuits were first baked under the orders of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, hence their name! Mir Osman Ali Khan was the last sovereign ruler (Nizam) of the "Princely State of Hyderabad" which was, during the first half of the twentieth century, the large princely state in British India.

The Nizam wished for a snack that was both a little sweet and a little bit salty. Now, this combination might seem a little weird, even by today's standards in the food industry, but it actually works rather well. You see, a little bit of salt can really enhance the sweet taste of many dishes and desserts, as it creates a nice contrast between the two. Paul & Pippa, a biscuit brand from Spain, knows this, hence why they have such a large range of both sweet and salty snacks. Have you ever tried adding a little bit of salt in your hot cocoa? If not, try it! You can thank me later.

That is why the Nizam demanded a sweet and salty biscuit. Teas are, of course, more inclined towards sweet biscuits and snacks rather than the salty ones. But Ali Khan knew that a little bit of salt could do wonders. It is no wonder then, that even a hundred years later, the Osmania biscuits are a staple snack in every afternoon tea session.

Although the Osmania biscuits are over a century old, they weren't so popular right away. They were loved by the citizens of Hyderabad, of course, however... they didn't become popular in other regions of India until the city of Hyderabad started expanding and until it became the IT hub that it is today. That was when many people from all corners of India came into contact with these biscuits and became infatuated with them.

There are also different variations of these biscuits. For example, there is a type of butter biscuit in Chennai that is very similar to Osmania biscuits. This is probably because the Osmania biscuits have a simple shape and design, which is shared by many biscuits and cookies around the world. However, what differentiates the Osmania biscuits from others is their history and salty taste.

Now, an important questions about these biscuits is whether they are healthy or not. To answer this question, one has to take a look at the biscuits nutritional values. Because of this, I've chosen the Karachi Bakery brand of Osmania biscuits and checked just how much calories, carbs, fat and protein these biscuits contain.

Let's start with the first major category, which is calories. Most people who are trying to loose weight will only look at the caloric values of specific snacks and dishes. While it is true that you can loose weight just by consuming less calories, this does not equal a healthy diet, which in turn can cause more harm to your health than good.

It is important to take good care of yourself, which means that your body should have access to an ample amount of carbs, fats and proteins. The average adult should consume about 2000 calories to maintain weight, so I'll gauge whether these biscuits are healthy or not based on those parameters.

So, an average serving size of 4 biscuits containts 546 calories, 58 grams of carbs, 23 grams of fat, and only 7 grams of protein. Considering that these values are for only 4 biscuits, this does not look promising. 4 cookies can fill up a quarter of your daily caloric need, almost half of the amount of carbs you should consume, over a half of fats, while only providing a measly 5% of proteins you should consume. This is what nutritionists call an "unbalanced" meal.

And with good reason. Protein, for example, is very important as that is what our cells are made out off. It is especially important for developing children, so it might be better to give them High Protein Cookies. That is why nutritionists recommend meals which contain a lot of proteins and less carbs and fats. Carbs give us energy, so it is important that we fill out our daily needs for carbs throughout the entire day, not through one meal, so as to always have energy and not feel burned-out.

When it comes to fats, four biscuits contain 32 grams of fats, which is half the recommended daily dosage of fats (for a healty heart). I guess consuming one to two biscuits max per day shouldn't cause any harm to your health, however, be sure not to exceed more than four biscuits a day. As with all things, these biscuits are best enjoyed in moderation, from time to time, along with a nice, warm cup of tea.

However, if you have the necessary culinary skills and some free time, you can always make your own Osmania biscuits using whichever healthy alternatives you'd like. I'll be posting a sample recipe at the end of the article so you can try your hand at baking a batch of these great tea-time biscuits.

Karachi - the famous distributor of Osmania biscuits

For those of you who don't have the necessary culinary skills, fret not! You can always get your hands on some store-bought Osmania biscuits, and since I've mentioned Karachi already, I might as well take a look at what they have to offer. So, why is Karachi Bakery so famous?

Well, Karachi Bakery is located on Moazzam Jahi Market, in the same city where the Osmania biscuits originate from, Hyderabad. Karachi Bakery is one of the most famous bakeries in India, and it was founded my Sri Khanchand Ramnani ji. The bakery is most famous for their fruit biscuits, dil kush and plum cakes. And Osmania biscuits, of course.

If you're wondering what dil kush is, it is the native cooking style of Hyderabadi Muslims, which began to develop after the Bahmani Sultanate was founded, back in the fourteenth century. It is a combination of Arabic, Mughal and Turkish cuisines, along with some influences from the native Telugu and Marthwada people. This cuisine mostly comprises of rice, wheat and meat dishes which are then seasoned with various spices, herbs and natural edibles.

Karachi Bakery, although it originated in Hyderabad, has over time exanded into four other cities, which include: Bengaluru, Chennai (where the Osmania biscuits compete with the local butter biscuits), Mumbai and Delhi. The first Karachi Bakery was opened up in 1953, after Sri Hanchand Ramnani emigrated from Karachi to Hyderabad in the year 1947 during the partition of India.

You might've been discouraged from buying Karachi biscuits after my analysis of their nutritional values, but don't be! Many biscuits today, even very famous ones such as Oreo, don't have balanced nutritional values. One to two Osmania biscuits will be a great addition to any cup of tea, so get your hands on some as soon as possible! Trust me, you won't regret it.

Osmania bisuits

Photo by TACstock1/shutterstock.com

A sample recipe with ingredients for the Osmania biscuits

Now that you've discovered everything there is to know about these biscuits, why not bake your very own batch of these amazing snacks? Baking these biscuits requires some basic culinary skills, so you should have no problem preparing these by yourself.

This recipe was made by Tarla Dalal, from tarladalal.com, so be sure to check it out for more amazing recipes!

Here are the ingredients you'll need for this recipe:

  • one quarter tablespoon of saffron strands
  • one quarter cup of milk
  • one and a half cups of plain flour
  • one quarter tablespoon of baking powder
  • two tablespoons of custard powder
  • two tablespoons of milk powder
  • five tablespoons of butter
  • six tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • a pinch of salt plain flour

After you've gathered all the necessary ingredients, you can start preparing the biscuits. Here are the steps you need to follow in order to bake a batch of Osmania biscuits:

  1. The first thing you need to do is to combine saffron and warm milk in a small bowl and mix them well. After you've done that, put the bowl aside.
  2. After that, combine the plain flour, baking powder, custard powder, milk powder (that is sure a lot of powder!) and salt and sieve these ingredients together. Again, after you're done, put the bowl aside.
  3. Take a deep bowl, add in the butter and the sugar and cream the two ingredients together using a spatula.
  4. Now, take the saffron-milk mixture and add it to the deep bowl which contains the butter and the sugar. Mix these mixtures together using the spatula again.
  5. Now, add the plain flour-custard mixture to the mix, mix all of these ingredients well and knead them into a soft dough. Don't use any water or milk.
  6. Take some cling wrap and cover the dough with it. Let it refrigerate for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Find a clean, dry surface and sprinkle some plain flour over it. Roll the dough onto the surface into a 275 mm diameter circle. Using a 55 mm cookie cutter, cut the dough into small biscuit pieces. You should have about 20 pieces in total.
  8. Put the biscuits on a baking tray, preheat the oven at about 180°C and bake the biscuits for about 25 minutes.
  9. Let the biscuits cool after they're baked and store them in an air-tight containter. I recommend using a Cookie Jar or a Biscuit Tin.

And that's it! If you've been following the recipe closely, then you should have had no problem baking a batch of these tasty tea biscuits. Once again, thanks to Tarla Dalal for creating this great recipe in the traditional style of Hyderabadi Osmania biscuits. I know I can't wait to try out the recipe myself!

Source: tarladalal.com - India's #1 Food Site

And that would be it for today's article! I hope you've enjoyed reading about these biscuits as much as I've enjoyed writing about them. If you're interested in discovering more traditional biscuits and cookies such as these, with a plethora of background information and nutritional values, be sure to check-out our Complete Collection of Biscuit Types! There's something there for everyone!


Leading image by fotosunny/shutterstock.com

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