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Up Above The World So High; Enjoying A Meal In The Sky

A friend told me recently that these days I am writing too much on street food and that I should write something on high ends.  Early this week, during a flight, I was served a meal which looked great.  While enjoying, not before clicking few pictures of it, I thought, why not ? How much more high one can go ? Bingo !! 

How  important is the food element in the overall flying experience of a guest in any airline? Rightly, while there are USPs of each airline in India, the food too differs from one to another and yes, the regular travelers like me, do talk about it. This means, the food any airline serves has a significant impact on one’s decision to fly which one with. Is it ?

Let us sample these. A diet conscious colleague of mine, in early days of ‘No Frills’ airlines, despite being full, bought food during flight just to experience how it feels to buy a food in an aircraft.  Food critic Vir Sanghvi once wrote that generally he avoids airlines food because he doesn’t feel that it appeals to him but at times likes food in Air India.  Foodie Kunal Vijayakar once tweeted a picture of Kheema Pao served to him aboard a Jet flight which he felt was quite good.  Similarly, another friend of mine would carry a food pack of his own before boarding a flight.  Another colleague would carry some snacks to eat during the flight and would eat the airlines food too.  Why? Because he feels the food they serve is good but quantity is less. Now, surely food plays an important part in the flying experience.

So, let’s see what my own experience has been. However, before even starting,  let me clarify that I am not trying to pass any judgements for or against any airline food.  It is purely a narration of my own experience and liking.

IMG_1767India’s most successful ‘No Frills’ aigline, Indigo serves an array of food aboard its flights.  They keep on evolving their menu but primarily is a ready to eat mini meals kind.  I have flown quite frequently with this airline and have tried their most of the offerings from sandwiches to Subs to Maggie to Cake Slices to ready-to-eat Biryani or Dal Chawal.  The Sandwiches are a good option if you don’t have problem with room temperature sandwiches.  Have tried both veg and non veg versions. I prefer their Chicken Junglee Sandwich. The IMG_1768bread is fresh and soft and the chicken chunks with cream dressing is a killer. However, my best bet with Indigo always has been their ready-to-eat Upma.  It is simply flavourful, fresh and filling.  I have described it in detail in one of my earlier blogpost entitled, The High Flying Upma. It makes for a flavourful and satisfying breakfast or snack with black coffee.

Spicejet, despite its attractive and food oriented name, slipped badly in all aspects IMG_1771over the years.  However, in the past couple of years has wriggled out of its downward spiral and has started doing well.  Has a new refreshing look and has significantly improved its services.  However, my experience with the food has not been great.  Recently, in a morning flight, I was served a breakfast comprising Paneer Bhurji, Vermicelli Croquette and Aloo Parantha. A Croissant also sat prettily in the tray.  The description sounds great and so we’re the looks. Paneer Bhurji was good looking though but tasted very ordinary. Had a thick paste like consistency rather than granular. Was low on spices and a bit high on salt. In fact it was salty rather than having any flavours. Croquette was bland and tasted more of the bater mix with which  the vermicelli mix was coated for frying.  In fact it was bland albeit with some salt in it. Was not at all crispy or had any granular texture. Paranthas too were dry and bit thick on the sides. The filling of Aloo was a bit flavourful with some IMG_1774mild spicy and balanced seasoning. Having tasted each item, didn’t feel like eating any item fully, so left more than half of each. Thought of settling for Croissant to have somewhat satisfying breakfast. Though it looked good but one touch could tell it was hard. Yes, the first bite confirmed it was hard, cold (obviously) and dry. Tiny crumbs fell on my lap telling me it’s not fresh even. So just two bites and back it went into the tray. A black coffee could have been solace but to no avail. Was bland and had no flavour. So, that’s it. May be it was a day for me.  May be they serve good things otherwise.

Then, a few months ago, again aboard a morning Goair flight, I was served breakfast.  Besides other items, what caught my fancy was the sliced boiled eggs.  The four halves of the two boiled eggs were placed in an off-white sauce having a sprinkling of black pepper. It was a little milk, or perhaps diluted cream, seasoned with salt and black pepper.  Simple, yet flavourful, combo which provided the body, flavours and the moisture to the boiled eggs and taking them to the next level of flavours.  I was quite amused by this little trick. In my excitement I forgot to take a picture.

IMG_1785Over the past couple of years, I am quite impressed with the service and food offered by Vistara, relatively a new airline.  They offer basic yet exotic sounding variety everyime you fly with them. The presentation is great, aroma is inviting and the food is very flavorful.  Sample this basic South Indian breakfast I had aboard an Vistara flight recently.  The spread was fresh, hot and gave a very good aroma. Pongal was mildly flavoured and had whole black pepper corns. Rice was long and flavourful. It blended well with the Dal but still separate. Vada was soft and flavourful, dipped in a thick sambar. The spinach uttapam was a bit dry however tangy and flavourful.  Croissant was a delight to enjoy.   Fresh, buttery, soft and flaky. Each bite gave you a mild sweet and salty flavour. Was well layered and a melt in IMG_1779mouth sorts. All this with soft drinks of choice and your favorite Starbucks coffee.  During a few flights I have taken with the airline, I have had dinner of Couscous with Chicken gravy, sometimes it was Pita Bread with Creamy Paneer,  sometimes Aloo Tikki with Tangy Chicpeas, exotic sweets and and…

These were my experiences with the various airlines and are not final and judgemental verdicts.  You might have yours and may be better, may be with other airlines those I have missed here.  Recollect those and you would be amused.

Bon Appetite & Bon Voyage !!

Rajesh Tara  

#MagicofFlavours

 

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