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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Story of Indian Railway Cutlet

Have you ever noticed Bhartiya Railway- “Aapki Sewa main” (In Your Service) written in small circles on the berths in railway coaches. For me the service by Bhartiya Railway is represented by the quintessential Railway breakfast, Cutlets ?

Those small patties, covered with bread crumbs, deep fried, cut in various shapes (circular in west, heart shaped in east, other shapes which I have seen include a rhombus, small squares etc.) are part of the morning happenings of any train journey. After seeing (or smelling) the great railway toilets in morning (usually flooded, soiled and you know what all) & a quick brushing of teeth along with junta, many a times with finger (as one forgets the brush?) the smell of these cutlets is the first welcome thing which invigorates all senses, especially "the smell" which ends all smells. The smell of railway cutlets is unique, much unique than that of soil after first rains, or that of Chanel no.5 . Any other smell which comes closer is that of railway window railings, purely metallic and very very unique.

These cutlets are mostly made of potatoes with a few seasonal veggies, mostly peas, carrots etc. Although the best ones always have that bit of beetroot in them, they always have. They are the mostly nicely packed item which Indian Railways provide, well wrapped in the aluminum foils, in fact there is a bit of sogginess prior to the crispiness of these cutlets due to the foils which adds to the taste. They always serve two cutlets with bread butter (2 slices only, never ever more than that). I always make a sort of a sandwich out of the first and the second one I just get lost in its taste. One can’t forget the contribution of Sauce here (enriched with Kaddus ?) this tomato ketchup is always packed in those small plastic sachets, bright red in colour, it always adds to the flavour of cutlets.

Cutlets taste best with the watery coffee (which is much better than the watery tea). Although if one gets tea of the quality of Chaudhry Chai waala (near nandurbar station, en route Ahmedabad to Nagpur) one shouldn’t miss that.

Cutlets compete with Omelets in morning, and from the look on the faces of people who buy omelets one knows who wins ?. Cutlets also get an enhanced version in Rajdhani or Shatabdi where they are accompanied with fried green peas or a bit of French fries at times. But the basic taste remains the same.

I just hope I keep traveling, enjoying my journeys on Indian Railway and keep enjoying the wonderful moments it brings along.

Long Live the Indian Railway Cutlet, one of the best breakfasts in the country…