Today we were to leave our Tour Party and make our own way back to Delhi by train. It was going to be an adventure and the first time in two weeks that we had been left all alone, and to our own devices. It was both liberating, exciting, and slightly daunting all at the same time.
We had transferred by Taxi from Rishikesh back to the station at Haridwar from where we were to catch the (approx.) 6pm train back to New Delhi.
Once inside the station we found a place to plonk ourselves down on the platform that we hoped was the one that our train would depart from and took in the sights and the sounds.
It was like being back in the 70’s in the UK, people opened the doors of departing trains and pulled people in who had arrived late, people were jumping off as trains arrived, and trains left with people hanging out of the doors. It was all quite eye opening and kind of fun to watch.
When our train arrived it was much easier (even though we got in the wrong carriage) and everyone (except for us) got into the correct carriage and found their seats.
Perhaps the train to Delhi was more orderly, or perhaps we didn’t get to see the people jumping on and off as we dragged our way along 10 carriages to find our seats.
The Indian Railways Food Menu
I was not expecting that much food wise to be honest when we embarked, one of our party had said that we would spend half the journey eating? That I had doubted very much! However I was to be proven quite wrong!
I should have seen the light when we saw the tray arrive with our food on it.
However it was only when I took the paper sheet off the tray from ‘underneath’ the first set of food that things started to become clear. Even though, surely we are not going to get all of these different things?
Tray number 1
First course was a quite random selection of cucumber and tomato sandwich (no crust!), a Pack of Channa Dal mix, the sweetest cake ever, lemon drink, some sort of hot veg sausage roll affair.,
Officially according to the sheet we were getting a Namkeen, a Sandwich, a Samosa / Patties / Kachori , a Sweet and an Indian tea making kit.
I liked the cucumber sandwich (well half a sandwich) it felt very Raj. The Namkeen which is the word for a salty and savoury snack was that bag of Channa Dal mix (we saved one for another day after we tasted a little bit of one), I wasn’t that keen.
The sweet was basically a pot of sweet dry cake mix, the sweetest thing you will ever taste. It was not one to savour but actually to be honest you could not put it down. It was a sugar hit to the max, perfect for someone climbing a mountain or needing energy for a long run, not what you need on a train journey. It was so sweet that I really wanted to clean my teeth straight after eating, as I feared that all my teeth might melt.
Tray Number 2 – The Tea Making Kit
This has to be the best thing ever, a personal flask of hot boiling water (or close) with mug to make your tea. Everyone in the carriage got one and you then used you Indian Train Tea making kit to make your own cup of tea.
It reminded me of those plastic flasks we had as kids that we took soup to school in. I really want one of these!
Tray Number 3 – Tomato Soup
Randomly a cup of tomato soup (quite thin but I liked it) and a warm bread roll appeared (not random if I had read the menu, but at this point I had not).
This was like the sort of soup you get from a vending machine or at a Football match. Not that good, but kind of familiar and comforting.
Tray number 4 – Vegetarian option
The next tray to arrive was a Hot meal featuring multiple roti, rice, daal, and some paneer. A mini Thali, if you like, it was all hot and quite tasty.
There was a choice of vegetarian or meat, and it was a no brainer to order the vegetarian option (no ill effects suffered so far when taking that chocie).
Officially according to the menu sheet we were given a Rice Pullao, a Dal Dish, A Paneer Dish (could have had Chicken), Branded Curd (that was a pot of some sort of sour yoghurt which I did not eat), Parantha / Rumali Roti (which was quite good and was needed to dip and eat the daal and paneer), some pickle in a sachet was present but that stayed inside the packet. #
This was mainly surprisingly good, which was a total MyFoodHunt bonus!
Tray Number 5 – Dessert
Aha the classic finish, some vanilla ice cream! This must be something that you get everywhere, usually on a flight it is the last thing you get before you land. On this train trip it was the last thing we got to eat, but we still had two more hours to go on the journey. It was actually quite good, very creamy, very plain and the sort of thing you used to get in the movies during intermission (sorry showing my age now).
We were surprised at how much food we were offered on our train journey. For the most part it was pretty decent and if you have been travelling in India for a while you would probably be thinking that it was OK.
If it was your first day you might be a bit unsure. All I can say is that we were grateful for something safe and that we had no problems after eating it .
I remember British Rail in the 70’s and this menu wins everytime! Plus it was a lot of fun and made the short 7 hour journey go quicker!
The Trip Menu