CHENNAI: Spicy Chettinad dishes from south Tamil Nadu, mouthwatering delicacies of Karnataka and Kerala’s popular ‘puttu’ may make their way into trains with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu laying an emphasis on local cuisines onboard.
In his budget speech on Thursday, Prabhu told Parliament that the IRCTC would unbundle catering services by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution.
“We explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional in trains. Local cuisines of choice will be made available to passengers,” the Minister said in his one-hour-long speech on the floor of the House.
Against this backdrop, IRCTC officials here said that uniform menu across the country would be dished out to bring in the local food for the convenience of commuters.
“The common menu of dal, paneer subjee, poori, rice and curd could be replaced with sambar and roti in south India, as people here generally prefer roti in the place of poori. We may also have a full ‘thali’ comprising potato fry (‘urulai varuval’) instead of paneer,” an IRCTC official said.
Popular regional cuisines like Chettinad, quintessential food in Tirunelveli, snacks from Karnataka, besides healthy ‘puttu’ from neighbouring Kerala could be available for travellers on moving trains.
“The idea behind local cuisine is about giving the local taste of the respective region. ‘Pazham pori’ in Kerala, poli and maddur vada popular in Bengaluru and Mysuru, which are not currently available on trains, are a few options that could be offered,” the official added. IRCTC sources said food would not the choice of the contractors, but of the passengers. “We are also looking at whether food of a particular region could be offered throughout the journey of long-distance trains running between different States (situated miles across). For instance, passengers of New Delhi-bound Tamil Nadu Express shall get their choice of south Indian food en route to places such as hopal or Jhansi,” sources said.