Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Happened on board Amritsar Howrah Mail (13006) and How I Uncovered the Pantry Car Scam

On April 15, 2016 I was returning to Howrah from Amritsar after a great trip to Himachal Pradesh. On board 13006 Amritsar Howrah Mail, it was time for morning tea. I do not prefer tea when I am travelling for reasons best known to me. However my family would not miss out on it.

The pantry car guys with "Meals on Wheels" labelled on their shirt were marketing their tea and breakfast. My dad called out to one of them and asked for 4 cups of tea. The man handed over 4 cups which contained the watery milk and each contained a tea bag. So these were the tea bag dipped tea.

"How much?", my dad asked.
"40 rupees", pat came the reply.
My dad handed him over the money. The pantry car staff was about to walk away to his next customer.
"Biscuits?", I asked. Because I suddenly remembered that tea with biscuits cost us 10/- when we boarded the train from Howrah to Kalka (Howrah-Kalka Mail).
"No biscuits", the guy replied.
"Then it should cost 7/-. With biscuit it is 10/-", I enquired.
He had a sense of nervousness on his face and he blabbered, "We are selling stuff at the price we are told. If you have any questions, ask our manager." and he hurried away.

You can download the price list from:

I told my dad that I would speak to the Pantry Car Manager and walked towards the pantry car. We were in B1 and pantry car was just the coach before. I approached the food packing desk and asked - "I want to speak to the pantry car manager" as my eye searched for him among the many present there.
One of them replied, "He is not here, he has gone for an inspection".
"I will wait", I replied and stood there as the rest continued their work.

A couple of minutes there, my dad came searching for me. I told him, "I am waiting for the manager".

Soon a person there told me point to a man who was sitting there right from the moment I had come, "He is the manager, speak to him".

"What is the price of the tea?", I asked the manager.
"10 rupees sir", he replied.
"Can you please show me the rate chart, I want to check the price of tea", I replied.
"What happened sir?", he asked me sensing trouble.
"We are being charged 10/- for a cup of tea when the actual price is 7/-. And if you are taking 10/- you should be providing biscuits", I charged.
"Sir, we had given them 10/- for tea and biscuit but we did not get the biscuit so we are charging 10/- for a cup of tea", he replied.
"Is that the rule, can you show me the rule book?", I asked him.
"Sir, how many cups you had taken, tell me, I will return the rest", he pleaded almost.
"What about the entire coach? All of them were charged 10/-. What about the entire train? All of them were charged 10/-", I asked him.
"Sir what to do", he had no answer.
"Okay, let me see if I can complain", I told him.
He had no answer. So both of us came back.

Returning to my seat, I remembered recent news reports about Railways Ministry being very proactive with complaints that were sent through Twitter. I wanted to tweet instantly. See, when the man on the top is proactive, the citizens get enough encouragement to stand up and voice out his opinion.

I tweeted - " travelng on 13006 Amritsar hwh mail.We are being charged 10/- instead of 7/- for a cup of tea."

After about an hour, Ministry of Railway Official Twitter handle replied to me, " Matter forwarded to the concerned official "

I was happy. A citizen's complaint was taken seriously and was forwarded to the concerned department for necessary action, in this case the Indian Railways Catering.

I kept waiting to see what happens. The pantry car staff walked passed selling the tea at the same rate as before, 10/-

An hour later, we asked for tea again and this time handed him 7/- for a cup of tea. The pantry car guy, counted it and asked for 3 rupees more. I told him, "tea cost 7/- and your manager agreed to it. Ask him".

He was visibly angry. He muttered, "no more tea in this coach" and went away towards the pantry car without proceeding further into the coach.

I kept waiting for a reply from @IRCatering handle but no reply came till today.

Time for lunch - I ordered for a standard veg casserole.

This is what a standard veg casserole contains according to Indian Railways.

This is what I got. They had asked me if I would prefer rice instead of roti, and I had agreed for rice.

According to Indian Railways, the pantry car should be charging 50/- for a standard veg thali. See the clip from the chart below:

This is how much I was charged.

I waited and waited for the Catering Department to initiate action or at least reply back to my tweet. But till today that has not happened.

I have come back and lodged an online complaint with the Ministry of Railways. I have also filed an RTI and I am waiting for the response.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Potol Kosha (Parwal Kasha) Recipe

This is for Maa. There are certain dishes that are best prepared by your mom. I mean it when I say this, nobody in this world can match her when it comes to Potol Kosha.

Well – first things first, the inspiration behind this dish is Maa but the recipe is not hers. I say this because although I tried to recollect the awesome flavours that this dish always have whenever she cooks it, I could not match hers but it turned out to be wonderful. Cooking a good recipe of Potol (or Parwal) seems to be in my genes (Joking)


Potol (parwal) – 8 pcs
Oil – 4 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Bay Leaf – 1 pc
Onion – 1 pc sliced
Tomato – 1 pc sliced
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – ½ tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Chilli powder – ¾ tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste


  1. Cut the parwals in round shape
  2. In a kadhai, once it is hot pour in 3 tbsp of oil and fry the parwals till they are half cooked. To understand this, you will find the edges are brown and the inside has started to get colored.
  3. Take them out and keep aside. There will still be some oil on the kadhai. Add the remaining oil to it and put the bay leaf, cumin seeds to it
  4. When these start spluttering, pour in the onions. Put salt to taste and fry
  5. Put ginger garlic paste and fry until the raw flavour is gone
  6. Now pour in the tomatoes and spices – turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder.
  7. Mix well and let it cook on medium flame for a few minutes until the raw flavour of the tomato is gone and it appears mushy.
  8. Now pour the fried parwals and mix well. Add sugar.
  9. Add water. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Add garam masala, mix well. Put off the heat. Serve hot.
    Relish this beautiful dish with rice! 

Double Chilli Chicken ( Teekha Chicken) Recipe

Once Thursday comes to a close, I generally start thinking on what to do on Friday night. If there are friends to tag along, I preferably go to a restaurant. But this week was different. With no one available it was time to think of cooking something for my Friday dinner.

I switched to YouTube and then stopped at what read as “Double Chilli Chicken”. The chef was Sanjay Thummu or Vahchef.

The beauty of this dish lies in two things. But before counting the two let me tell you that this dish has nothing to do with the Indo-Chinese recipe that we generally know about. Ok now, firstly – a lot of red chillies go into it, which means the dish is hot! Secondly, this is one recipe that uses just two spices. So here it goes!!!


Chicken – 400 grams with bones
Onion – 1 big chopped
Dried red chillies – 8 pcs
Dried chilli seeds – 1 tbsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 3 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Lemon – 1 tsp


  1. Wash and pat dry the chicken.
  2. In a pan, put in the oil
  3. Once hot, put the dried chilli seeds and dried red chillies and cook for some time
  4. Once the red chillies start getting burnt and changes color, put in the onion
  5. Put salt to taste
  6. When the onion starts changing color, put red chilli powder and coriander powder
  7. Immediately pour in the chicken
  8. Reduce the heat and cover the pan
  9. Let it cook for 20 minutes with occasional stirring
  10. If you wish to have gravy, pour in some water and let it simmer for 5 minutes
  11.  Apply a dash of lemon
  12. Serve hot with rice or roti

This dish is best enjoyed when it is dry. However, if you wish to have gravy you can always do it. Do try out this super hot dish!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Chilli Chicken

Chilli chicken needs no introduction. An Indo-Chinese delight that is very common in every restaurant. The inspiration behind this dish is my dida (grand mother from Maa's side). When I was in school, a visit to her ensured that chilli chicken would be on the menu. She, I can guarantee prepares the best fried rice and chilli chicken.

With this recipe, I dare not match her skills in the kitchen. This is my first try at chilli chicken and I was bit apprehensive about the end result. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it came out. Of course, it was no where near to her's! :)


  1. Chicken - 400 grams boneless and cut in small pieces
  2. Oil - 5 tbsp
  3. Onions - 2 nos medium size sliced
  4. Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
  5. Garlic cloves - 6-7 pcs
  6. Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  7. Capsicum - 1 no. small and cut in cubes
  8. Egg - 1 no.
  9. Corn flour - 3 tbsp
  10. Soy sauce - 3 tbsp
  11. Chilli sauce - 3 tbsp
  12. Tomato sauce - 3 tbsp
  13. Green chillies - 4 nos sliced
  14. Salt to taste (Remember soy sauce contains salt, so be careful)


Marinading and Frying the Chicken

  1. Wash and pat dry the chicken.
  2. In a large enough bowl, add egg, corn flour, ginger garlic paste, half of the soy sauce, half of the chilli sauce and mix well.
  3. Allow the marinade to sit for around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. In a wok, add 4 tbsp of oil.
  5. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and fry them till golden brown. You may fry the chicken in batches. Take care to ensure that the chicken pieces are fried on all sides.
  6. Take the fried chicken pieces out and keep aside.

Preparing the sauce

  1. In a wok, put in 1 tbsp of oil.
  2. Once hot, add the garlic cloves.
  3. Once the garlic cloves begin to get brown, add onions and capsicum. Saute till they start to lose color.
  4. Put in the sliced green chillies and saute for a few seconds
  5. Now put in red chilli powder, remaining portions of chilli sauce, tomato sauce and soy sauce. 
  6. Add water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. It is always recommended to taste the sauce before adding salt because as mentioned earlier, soy sauce contains salt.
  7. Add the fried chicken pieces. Mix so that the the chicken pieces are nicely coated with the sauce.
  8. Cook to bring the chilli chicken to the desired consistency. 
  9. Serve hot with noodles or fried rice.
Do share if you liked the recipe!!!

Potol Dorma (Stuffed Parwal)

During those 10 months that I was in Hyderabad, Kolkata House was a weekend regular. The cheap eatery from Kondapur prepared awesome dishes without hurting our pockets. And Potol Dorma always featured on our take away.

This is one dish where you really need to get your hands dirty. And it is worth it! Well the stuffing is everything and you can make the stuffing both veg and non-veg. For non-veg you can use fish and chicken. In this recipe I have kept it pretty simple and have used just the seeds of parwal and grated coconut. Grated coconut delivers a flavor that makes this dish stand out.

Now let us check the recipe.


Potol (parwal) : 4 nos.
Oil: 3 tbsp
Garam masala: 1 tsp

For stuffing:

Grated coconut: 3 tbsp
Onions: 1 piece sliced
Green chillies: 1 pc chopped
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
Tomato puree: 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Sugar : 1tsp


  1. Wash the parwals and cut off the edges. Cut along the edges and take out the seeds using a spoon. Be careful so that it does not break. Keep the seeds aside, we would use them for the stuffing.
  2. Take 2 tbsp in a kadhai and once the oil is hot put in the cut parwals and let it fry. Take the parwals out and keep aside allowing them to cool.
  3. Now put in 1 tbsp in the kadhai. Once the oil is hot put in the sliced onions and let it fry till the onions are brown. 
  4. Put in the chopped green chillies and saute. 
  5. Put salt and mix.
  6. Put in the seeds of parwals and fry it. Take care to not burn them.
  7. Saute the ginger garlic paste in it until the raw flavor is gone.
  8. Put in the tomato puree and the spices mentioned under stuffing.
  9. Put 1 tsp of sugar in it.
  10. Saute till oil separates out. Then put in the grated coconut and let it cook for around 2-3 minutes.
  11. Take 80% of the stuffing out and allow it to cool. The remaining will be used for the gravy
  12. Once the stuffing has cooled down, take the parwals and put the stuffing in it. You may tie the parwals after this, I preferred to let them be as is.
  13. Now pour in some water in the stuffing that is in the kadhai and bring it to a boil. 
  14. Put the stuffed parwals in it and let it simmer for around 5 minutes.
  15. Put garam masala and put off the heat.
  16. Serve hot along with phulka or rice.

Is there a better way to make this dish? Do share your comments below.