Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Osmania Biscuits at Nimrah Cafe and Bakery, Charminar, Hyderabad

- by Deepa Krishnan

At the Nimrah Cafe and Bakery, there is always a crowd. Located right next to the iconic Charminar, this cafe has both locals and tourists filling it. The signboards are in English, Urdu and Telugu.
Every half an hour, fresh trays of biscuits and other baked goodies are brought to the counter-tops, still warm from the oven. The photo below has 2 trays of Hyderabad's famous Osmania biscuits.

We ordered Irani chai and Osmania biscuits; and they also gave us a Khopra Biscuit (the larger one in the photo below, it has coconut in it). The Osmania biscuit was delicious - crumbly, flaky, sugary and salty, all at once. Too much sugar, of course, but hey, I wasn't complaining. The tea was also milky-sweet.
The biscuit is named after the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who died in 1967. Apparently he was very fond of them, and ordered them from Vicaji's Hotel (which was popular at that time). He would send his car to Vicaji's to fetch the biscuits.

Vicaji's Hotel doesnt exist any more. The original Vicaji refers to Vicaji Meherji (1781–1853), a Parsi from Thana, who along with his brother Pestonji Meherji, moved to Hyderabad in early 1800's. One of their mansions - called Pestonji ki Kothi - was converted to Vicaji's Hotel by Naorozji Bapuji Vicaji, a descendant of Vicaji Meherji. Vicaji’s Hotel was the numero uno of Hyderabad hotels in the 1940s and 1950s. It was sold in the 1950's to a Punjabi businessman who called it the Three Aces Hotel and Bar. In the 1980s, the mansion was demolished and Hyderabad lost a slice of its history.

But the Osmania biscuit has survived unscathed, and continues to be enjoyed by all Hyderabadis.

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