The drunken biscuit

Biscuits. India is serious about biscuits. Biscuits in the morning, biscuits at tea time, biscuits before bed. The best part about biscuits is dipping them into something warm, like a cuppa tea.

When you dip your biscuit into tea, I think it gets a little tipsy, maybe even drunk. Lovey-dovey. Pinkish-brown in the face. Warm and fuzzy, soggy. Sometimes even losing its balance and plonking into the bottom of your cup. Whoa there, tiger.

Now this is the moment to wait for. This is when you experience the biscuit’s truest, loudest, deepest sweet and savory notes that it is usually too shy to show off when when dry.

Don’t laugh, it’s true.

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When you go into any store, you find one WHOLE WALL devoted just to biscuits. Cream crackers, Marie, Digestives, Parle G, chocolate ones, oat ones, buttery ones, high fiber ones, gluten free ones.

And none of them are all that healthy – believe me, I’ve tried and tried to find the healthiest one on the market, since my tea is now lonely without them, but I’ve given up. Most of them are made of “wheat flour”, which, in India, means some sort of wheat-white flour mixture, and that’s about as good-for-you as they get. The rest is full of sugar, edible vegetable solids (some sort of not-so-healthy fat), inverted sugar syrup (glucose), and then some flavorings here and there. Just gotta accept their crumbly, buttery, fatty, sugary, selves with loving open arms :).

But India, let’s just be clear, by biscuit, you really mean cookie! No wonder I like them so much. I’ve always been a little Cookie Monster.

So I’m doing some research. Again don’t laugh. This is critical data if you plan to come to India sometime.

Name of experiment: When to eat your biscuit.

Variable measured: Number of seconds before biscuit crumbles in hot tea.

Controlled variables:
-One 8oz cup of fresh black tea, with milk and honey
-biscuits are dipped using a standard vertical dunk method
-Timed by Mari (Sonia’s Apple IPad Mini)

Observations & Notes:
Aesthetics: Shape, Size & Color
Sensory: Taste & Texture
Nutrition/Ingredient commentary
Price
Sonia’s personal rating

Bring on the biscuits!
Note: I will keep adding to the list as I meet new biscuits.

1) Parle G: India’s most popular biscuit, been around longer than I’ve been alive. Parle is the brand name, G stands for Glucose. The package shows a cute little kid (even to this day, I can’t figure out if it’s a girl or boy), eating the cracker.

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Aesthetics: Small rectangular shape, 5.5cm long, 3.75 cm wide, golden brown, textured border with the words “Parle G” written in the center

Sensory: On the sweeter side, with rich undertones of burnt butter. Very much cookie-like. Has a good crumbly crunch when dry, melts in your mouth when moistened. Much sweeter when dipped in tea.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: Wheat flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil, and most importantly, “invert sugar syrup” or the glucose part.

Price: 5 rupees for 66.7 grams

Melting point: 4 seconds before it breaks.

Sonia’s rating: A solid 8. I’ve known these for years so they have a soft spot in my heart. But rather annoying for dipping. You snooze you lose your biscuit.

2) Mcvities Whole Wheat Digestives: Also a very popular biscuit, eaten for decades. This long red box advertises the whole wheat and fiber content in these biscuits, which supposedly makes them easier to digest.

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Aesthetics: Circular shape, 6cm in diameter, perfect golden brown, the words “McVite’s” written on the center, with a picture of fresh wheat below.

Sensory: Wholesome wheaty, lightly sweet, malty in flavor, mealy and crumbly in texture.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: In addition to wheat flour, this biscuit also has whole wheat flour. As I mentioned above “wheat flour” in India is some sort of mixture of white and wheat flours. These digestives also have malt extract, which might give it that wheaty flavor. The biscuit is still super sugary and fatty, with sugar, invert sugar syrup, and edible vegetable oils.

Price: 30 rupees for 250 grams

Melting point: 15 seconds.

Sonia’s rating: 10 – it’s the mealy texture and malt I cannot resist. The wait time is also perfect.

3) Britannia NutriChoice Classic Lite Cream Cracker: Not your typical biscuit, but a favorite in my grandparent’s home. They come in a light yellow package, which also advertises the wheat and low sugar content.

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Aesthetics: Big and square, measuring 6.5 cm squared. Light golden-yellow in color, with dots in the center. The words “Britannia cream cracker biscuit are written in cursive diagonally down the biscuit.

Sensory: Savory, exactly like an oyster cracker, crunchy, sturdy, and flaky.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: Made with wheat flour and yeast. These do not have glucose and are much lower in sugar. Still high in fat.

Price: 15 rupees for 100 grams

Melting point: 65 seconds. It will not break off ever, but just be ready to melt in your mouth.

Sonia’s rating: 6 – I have to be in the mood for this one, as id rather dip it in clam chowder rather than tea. Way too long if you ask me. I get so bored of waiting. But really good with some fresh paneer.

4) McVities Marie: supposedly a new product on the market. The red package advertises the goodness of wheat, as well as the enriched vitamins and calcium in the biscuit.

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Aesthetics: Round, 6 cm diameter, very light golden-yellow, dots in the center, patterned edges, words McVitie’s written in the center.

Sensory: Very lightly sweet, not much taste, good crunch when dry, soggy when wet. Not sturdy, prone to crumbling.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: Wheat flour, sugar, edible veg oils, glucose, and .001% of vitamins and minerals premix. So I wouldn’t substitute these for your multivitamin :).

Price: 11 rupees for 90 grams

Melting point: 6.5 seconds

Sonia’s rating: 4 – would not eat it again. Just no flavor and too soggy.

5) Britannia Marie Gold: this brand is also well-known, but this biscuit is not so familiar to me. Light yellow and blue packaging, advertising all of the vitamins, minerals, and protein. Something like “as much protein as a glass of milk”.

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Aesthetics: Big and circular, measuring 7cm diameter, light golden-yellow, picture of wheat and teacup in center, above the words “Britannia”.

Sensory: Lightly sweet, very floppy and very soggy. No crunch. Super sturdy. When you dip it in tea, rather than breaking, it just hangs in this distorted gloppy form. Not going to break if you drop it.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: Supposedly the healthiest biscuit around because its fortified with that pre-mix vitamin stuff. Sure it has as much protein as milk if you eat the whole package, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you want to die of saturated fat and 500 calories.

Price: 7 rupees for 90 grams

Melting point: 20 seconds.

Sonia’s rating: 2 – Not a fan. Never again. Wayyy to soggy. Instead of breaking off from the biscuit, the moistened part just begins to hang down slowly in a soggy mess. Yuck.

6) Priyagold Glucose V Milk Biscuits: totally new brand and biscuit for me. Found these at the bottom of Granny’s cupboard. The red package excitingly advertises the “high fiber! High energy!” content.

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Aesthetics: Small and round, measuring 4.5 in diameter, perfect golden brown, big “V” in center with a stalk of wheat.

Sensory: Sweet, similar in richness and sweetness to a Parle G, with a slight coconutty and butter flavor, crunchy, very cookie like.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: Wheat flour, sugar, edible veg oil, milk solids and artificial vanilla flavor. The first biscuit with vanilla flavoring. I’m not sure where the high fiber part comes from, but perhaps all the sugar gives you high energy.

Price: 5.5 rupees for 75 grams

Melting point: 5 seconds until ready to eat, 9 seconds when ready to break.

Sonia rating: 7- love the vanilla flavor. It reminds me of a butter cookie.

7) Parle Marie: The ever popular Parle brand’s version of a Marie biscuit. Big yellow package advertising the light and crisp, wheat benefits.

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Aesthetics: Round, measuring 6.5cm in diameter, light golden brown, faint writing of “Marie Parle Biscuit” in center.

Sensory: Very similar in flavor to a Parle G, although much lighter, a tad less sweet, buttery, and crunchy.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: The usual wheat flour, sugar, edible veg oil, glucose. The same as a Parle G, but maybe in different quantities.

Price: 13 rupees for 144 grams

Melting point: 7 seconds.

Sonia’s rating: 6 – I’m realizing that “Marie” biscuits are always on the floppy-soggy side, which I don’t like. This one is better than the others though, because it has flavor and actually breaks off

8) Britannia Nice Time: Granny has been talking about these for awhile so I decided to try them. Sugar sprinkled cookies. The yellow package shows a beach scene with palm trees.

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Aesthetics: Big and rectangular, measuring 5cm wide x 6.5cm long, light golden brown, the letters “BIL” in the center. What does that mean??

Sensory: Very coconutty, buttery, and sweet. The lightly dusted sugar top complements the nutty flavor. Not soggy, crunchy.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: These are flavored with coconut and vanilla. Lots of sugar in this one.

Price: 10 rupees for 73 grams

Melting point: 5 seconds.

Sonia’s rating: 5 – Not bad, but I wouldn’t eat it if there were others on the table. A bit too sweet for me and I’m not a fan of the artificial coconut flavor.

9)Britannia Bourbon: I’ve seen these in the stores for awhile and I remember getting something similar to these on planes when I was lucky. The snazzy package is orange and red, swirled in brown chocolate splashes. I also have to share the description on the back because I think it’s quite good: Crisp sugar sprinkled biscuits with layers of choco cream, concocted to make you drool. Winning hearts since 1955.


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Aesthetics: Rectangular, 6cm long x 3cm wide, dark brown with darker brown cream center, the words “BOURBON” written across the center.

Sensory: Mocha-like cookie, rich and sweet chocolate ganache filling. Not soggy. Melt in your mouth texture.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: Cocoa solids in this one.

Price: 12 rupees for 78 grams

Melting point: 10 seconds.

Sonia’s rating: 10 – You all know how I feel about chocolate…and these also bring me back to childhood memories.

10) Britannia Good Day: Rich cashew cookies. This red and golden package is decked in golden cashews.

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Aesthetics: Round, measuring 5cm in diameter, light golden, no writing, just ridges.

Sensory: Lightly sweet with a deep nutty cashew flavor. Very much cookie like. Filling, firm, and hefty.

Nutrition/Ingredient notes: The highest in fat. It has edible veg oil, butter, and cashew bits.

Price: 15 rupees for 100 grams

Melting point: 18 seconds.

Sonia’s rating: 7 – I’m surprised how much I like these, as I normally don’t like the taste of cashews and pick them out of everything. I enjoy the savory-ness of them. They are something different.

MORE to come.

Much love,

SONIA

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One thought on “The drunken biscuit

  1. Pingback: tea-time-thoughts | bake (+travel) with sonia

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