Rajdhani Express is the pride of Indian Railways. I decided to take a trip to Mumbai, booking myself a whole coupe of four for the family. The 16-hour-trip was a fine experience, with the food being the highlight. And this foodie train journey is worth sharing.

The train leaves New Delhi station on the dot at its departure time of 4:30 pm. At 4:31 pm the train supervisor comes to great you with a welcome drink (Tropicana juice) in a fine glass. At 4:33 pm the TC enter to verify that we were legitimate travelers.  And at 4:40 pm the tea service commences, with a smartly dressed IRCTC employee laying the table for us. There are proper table mats laid, and a flower vase with a bunch of roses follows. Then comes an elaborate tray consisting of cheese sandwiches, motichoor laddus, chocolates, biscuits, pistachio nuts, and tea/coffee. This service lasts till 6 pm.

By this time the train has crossed Sawai Madhopur, and it is time to admire the sunset from the racing bogie. The seats are super comfy, and thanks to the power socket, one can easily surf the net.  It is 7:00 pm and the kitchen is busy preparing for the four course dinner.  The a/c first passengers have a separate kitchen housed in an entire bogie preparing fresh meals for the VIP guests. There are four options on offer – Indian veg, non-veg or continental (haven’t heard the word for ages) veg and non-veg.  Since there are four of us, we decide to try them all.

At 7:30 pm the table is laid again, and the soup service starts.  After the table mats are placed, soup sticks, dinner rolls, salt & pepper, butter, and for some reason, pickle and curds are placed with bone china soup bowls and stainless steel soup spoons, forks and knives. Then piping hot cream of vegetable soup are poured into each cup. The soup is straight out of the viceroy’s kitchen, and as boring. But I love the style.

At 7:50 pm the soup bowls are cleared and the starters come in.  Fresh crispy fried veg croquets are served with boiled vegetables, macaroni and tomato sauce. Nice.  It is 8 pm now and time for the main course. The veg main course is a repeat of the starters, but has cutlets instead, with the amazingly insipid boiled vegetables and macaroni. The non-veg continental option has the never-changing roast chicken with a tomato based sauce, and makes for a good diet meal. The highlights are the the Indian meal choices. Here the Indian Railways catering does itself really proud.

I am delighted to rediscover the good old Railway chicken curry is still in existence. Here it is served with freshly cooked peeli dal, alu gobhi, phulkas and jeera pulao. The vegetarians get beautifully cooked palak paneer, which is also served to the non-veg diners. The meal is amazing with every dish showing the touch of a seasoned khansama. Ice cream is served as the final course. Soon thereafter the bed is made for all, and the rhythm of the train lull us into sleep soon thereafter.

At 6:30 am, bed tea is served with biscuits and the morning newspaper.  At 7:30 am breakfast is served with the usual four options. The beauty is the choice of eggs cooked to order. As usual, the veg continental is the weakest option.  We have eggs, toast/butter/jam, and some beautifully prepared poha, and lots of tea. The last remnants of the breakfast are cleared just before we land at Mumbai central.

At Rs 3600 with no check-in hassles and such comforts, I wonder why more people do not choose this option.

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Aalok Wadhwa

An ardent foodie and a cook, specialising in International Cuisines. He has several cook books including ‘The Global Foodie’ to his credit. He is a Post Graduate from IIM-Bangalore and has held senior positions with various leading corporations. Alongside his corporate career, he pursues his love for food, writes restaurant reviews for Friday Gurgaon, and is one of the primary contributor to Indian Food Freak.

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12 Responses to Food in First Class A/C at Mumbai Rajdhani Express: A Foodie’s Delight

  1. ashwin says:

    I am surprised you liked the food. I’ve heard plenty of people getting stomach problems after eating in rajdhani/duronto. And 3600 is a little too much for spending 16hrs, probably that;s why less people choose this option.

  2. Ash says:

    It has been ages since I traveled by Rajdhani Exp. My First Exp was in Grade 4, even then the food was the high point of the travel. Guess my foodie instincts were explored rather early by my parents.
    Love Ash.

  3. Amey says:

    Nice writeup. I will be traveling by 1 AC tickets of Mumbai Rajdhani coming December. Hope to get same kind of experience during the travel.

  4. [...] due to the catering done by IRCTC, and there being a separate pantry just for the A/c first class (refer our previous review), one of the longest train journeys showcases our third-world credentials….and all because [...]

  5. suresh chand says:

    dear sir i looking job in rajdhani express as a food and beverage manager if you have vacancy then call me.
    thank you

  6. Pradeep says:

    I have traveled many a times in rajdhani Exp in 3AC but reading this post m tempted to go for a 1 AC coach.

  7. Amit says:

    Well written, but Aalok, there is a stark comparison between what they serve in the First class and second & third class. There’s no crockery, the food is served in foil packets on a cheap plastic tray, and on more than one occasion I’ve found the taste to be substandard. There are no continental options either.

    The serving staff are often hassled, rude and inattentive to the passengers’requests. And the worst part, railways tell passengers not to tip the serving staff, but invariably towards the end of the journey, they would come out with sweets on a tray, expecting some tip from everyone. Now at times it becomes embarrassing if you don’t give anything, where the pothers around you are giving. It’s not a matter of a few rupees, but its the contrast that railways have between classes of travel in the same train.

    • Pawan Soni says:

      Amit, you are absolutely right. And apart from the Mumbai Rajdhani and August Kranti, the other a/c first class food service sucks too – I have reviewed the TVM Rajdhani’s shabby treatment to it’s A/c first guests. Honestly I won’t mind paying more to be treated well in these situations. But apathy, bureaucracy and corruption, or what seems to becoming a truly Indian malaise, rears its ugly head here too.

      Thanks for posting the comment.

      Aalok

  8. Ankit says:

    After reading this experience, I’ve booked myself one. Thanks for tip

  9. [...] 2013.  I travelled to Mumbai by Rajdhani Express where thankfully the experience was similar to last year’s. The one difference from last year is that there are proper stairs now to climb to the upper berth. [...]

  10. raj says:

    good info.plz tell is there security guard in ac 1 2 or 3 tier coach?

  11. Abhi Roy says:

    Hygienic food is the main concern when you are traveling in train especially in India.Well i have heard good things about Rajdhani food but apart from rajdhani other trains food is not really etable as you will find uncleaned pantry car in these trains.

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