Yummies on Wheels: A foodie’s chronicle: Guest Post

My super-foodie Facebook friend, Somnath Roychoudhury has beautifully chronicled his food experiences on his way to Vadodara from Kolkata and back! He chose to eat from the local vendors at the platforms whenever his train stopped. He graciously agreed to do a guest post for me. All the information and photographs are his.

“E Cha-aa-aa-a !! Chai-yee-e garam !!”, “garam Samose-e-e-e !!” , “Kanda-chanaa-a-a-a !!”

Many of us are very familiar with this nostalgic call for a cup of hot tea at any point of time anywhere we are travelling. Wherever you are travelling, food is extensively connected with the entire journey for many of us. Being an omnivore foodie I planned to live on the snacks available on the railways platform of different region in my 32+32 hours journey on my way to Vadodara and coming back home (Kolkata).

4th October :

(1) Breakfast – hot Samosa at Raigarh – the skin is made of a nice mix of whole wheat and flour . And the filling is boiled mashed potato cooked in white oil with whole coriander , curry leaves , Green chili , turmeric powder , jeera powder . A typical central India prep.

Hot Samosa at Raigarh

(2) Lunch – Alu Bonda at Raipur – Nice fluffy jeera-adrak flavored thick cover with boiled mashed potato cooked in white oil with coriander powder , Green chili , turmeric powder , jeera powder . Marathi influence started with lesser use of whole spices and cutoff the curry leaves.

Alu Bonda at Raipur

(3) Evening Nashta – Kachouri and DaalVada at Nagpur – Kachouri has nice flaky ginger cumin flavoured cover with a spicy filling of moong and chana Daal mixture with a subtle hint of hing n roasted dhania. DaalVada is a spicy mixture of boiled chana daal n chopped methi saag. Unfortunately none of them serving this yummy fried stuffs with suitable chutney .Everyone is serving pouched tomato sauce.

5th October :

(4) Midnight craving – Hot bread pakoras with green chili at Nandurbar at 2.20 am – small bread pieces dipped into nicely whipped jeera flavoured besan batter and deep fried and served hot with green chili!!

Hot bread pakoras

(5) Finally at the time of Morning waiting had hot and yummy Sev-Pav. There is boiled salted matar served in this thin hot gravy with chopped onion and methi with loads of sev on it.. served with fresh small Pav.. yummy gujarati morning snacks !!!

hot and yummy Sev-Pav

10th October :

(6) Late Breakfast at Jalgaon : Alu Bonda – boiled and mashed potatoes tossed in black mustard seed and green. Chilli and deep fried with dhania flavored batter in white oil.

(7) Kachouri – jeers flavored atta-maida mixed dough cover filled with roasted chana and tuar daal boiled, mashed and tossed in ginger chili paste.

(8) Kanda-masala-chana – Water soaked and boiled chana mixed with finely chopped onion, tomato and methi green. Hand tossed with jaljeera and few drops of lemon juice. and tea in tasteless tea bags (railway service ).

Lunch with methi thepla ,hot chili achar, Sev n banana.. Pura Gujarati khana che. (Blame the yumminess for not taking the pics)

Evening Snacks with Samosa n green Chili and nice cardamom flavoured tea (other vendor) at Buti Bori (Blame the yumminess for not taking the pics)

(9) Another round of snacks at Nagpur with fluffy idly in thin coconut chutney and

(10)famous Nagpur Soan papdi (rose n orange flavoured )

Dinner from Gondia Station -the railways catering food

(11)veg meal- a cup of rice, 2 soft paranthas, Arhar Dal, Papaya subjee , Alu sabjee – 60rs… food was warm, tasty No fuss meal … (sorry for the bad quality of picture)

11th October :

(12)Early morning craving – Ghughni (nicely cooked matar topped with chopped onion, beet and coriander leaves with a sprinkle of salt, crushed roasted masala and few drops of lemon juice) and kulladwali Chai from Rourkela. oh yes had yummy

(13) After that Thick warm Poori (Made with atta+Maida) and ghughni was simple thick gravy non spicy yet perfectly balanced taste.

(14) Chana mix – Water soaked and boiled chana mixed with finely chopped onion, tomato and coriander leaves. Hand tossed with salt and few drops of lemon juice.from Chakradharpur.

(15) Finally almost brunch with poori-subjee-aloodum-Vada-Samosa – The poori was small-super thin and soft made of Maida the subje was no fuss Matar or can be said basiv ghughni.. along with hot spicy aloodum and aloovada and samosa from kharagpur .

and I had few Kheera , Kela , Pao-bhaji ,jhalmuri, sprouted chana mix, Chhole chawal.. forgot a few..

Few Observations:

  • In the entire journey there were loads of railways catering service vendors who are rather salesmen. They aren’t bothered about the quality of the food nor the quantity or staleness they are just need to sell all the stuff. The quality of the food of catering service are average and below average. but they are so many in number and they are so frequent they are literally outnumbering the general non railway vendors. I felt the catering staffs discouraging the general food vendors also. Over all the variation of taste of different food on railway coaches is reducing which is sad. Interestingly there are still many vendors who are really concerned about the flavour of food they are serving which may continue to be a silver line of hope for food on wheels. Here are few pictures I have taken. I apologize for the bad quality of photography because the battery of my DSLR has betrayed me big time.. so these are my phone cam pics.
  • The general vendors are scared of RPF so they really cannot sell their stuff inside railway coach that way.. they play hide and seek with the RPF. This fear is reflected in their service yet they are trying to serve as best as they can. Let’s Hope for the best.
  • The catering services people don’t go to the general coaches plus they are aware of the high price of the food they supply the caterer vendor on platform also try to avoid general coach so the passengers from that coaches hugely depend on the local vendors and vice versa as because local platform vendors also know that they can sell their food better and fast to those hungry souls… so most of the local vendors take their hot food to the general coach passengers first.. if they get time then they come to other reserved coaches.

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