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.