Street food gets a platform at IRCTC Food Plaza

- December 3, 2023

The IRCTC Food Plaza at the Delhi Junction Railway Station offers a variety of street food options 24 hours a day; it is open to outsiders as well as travellers

CLEAN: The seating arrangement at the IRCTC Food Plaza is top notch

If you are a fan of street food and are bored of the regular city haunts, try a delectable and different experience at the Old Delhi Railway Station, also called the Delhi Junction Railway Station. 

The IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) Food Plaza, launched by the Bird Group at this historic railway station, is a foodie’s delight since it not only offers street favourites from all over the country but also gives you a chance to sample delights of the renowned Delhi 6 zone. 

Even if you are not a train traveller, do take a nostalgic trip there for a gastronomic journey and sample a selection of palate-tickling street food items that are always a favourite with railway passengers and local population alike.

Besides the mouth-watering flavours, a bonus for the visitors is the heritage status of station. This is the oldest railway station of Delhi and a Junction station, which makes it the third busiest railway station in India in terms of frequency of trains after Kanpur Central and Vijayawada Junction. It was established near Chandni Chowk in 1864 when trains from Howrah, Calcutta started operating up to Delhi. Its present building was constructed by the British Indian government in the style of the nearby Red Fort and opened in 1903. It soon became an icon for the city and a listed heritage site.

HISTORIC: The building of the Delhi Junction, constructed in red, which houses the IRCTC Food Plaza came up in 1903 during the Raj era

Now, Bird Catering & Lounges, among the largest and most diversified groups of various entities in the industry and a pioneer in aviation, travel and hospitality industry in India for over 52 years, has taken up the task of providing a wholesome, wide-ranging yet affordable dining to visitors in a cheerful and hygienic environment. 

The IRCTC Food Plaza is situated close to the Red Fort and the busy shopping destination, Chandni Chowk. As many as 291 trains chug through the resilient tracks and platforms of the Old Delhi Railway Station every day thus making this food zone a welcome addition to other services offered to passengers at the station. 

A first of its kind for this landmark station, the plaza is a concession from the IRCTC.  Besides regular travellers it is also a special effort to cater to late-night workers who are hard-pressed to find a hearty meal in the witching hours. 

It is a great option for the city’s midnight revellers who seek a secure, hygienic and well-appointed 24 hours destination (with high speed wi-fi), to enjoy quality street food and beverages with friends and family. While it is designed to offer respite to weary travellers seeking comfortable seating, calming ambient music, the eatery is a safe environment for a meal for everyone at all times because it is situated in a secure zone where there is hustle-bustle even after other eateries have downed shutters. 

During late hours, it does not take long to reach the station from any part of the city because of the sparse traffic on the roads, says Rahul Sehgal, Business Head, Bird Catering & Lounges. 

He adds further, “We hope to make it a preferred eating-out option and a landmark for the city. It is not restricted only to the travellers. Ever since the plaza opened last month, we have been receiving a steady stream of happy and relieved diners particularly between 12 am to 4 am.”

The plaza has an eclectic wide-ranging menu featuring sumptuous street foods of India from across the length and breadth of the country with a special emphasis on local flavours. 

Guests can enjoy the signature masala chai and samosas, value combo meals, sandwiches, classics like chhole bhature, vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis, paranthas, salads, Chinese street food, chicken tikka kathi rolls and much more in addition to a wide selection of south Indian food items like a variety of dosas and the aromatic sweet halwa Rava Kesari

The menu also includes popular fast-food items like burgers and pizzas, beverages and scrumptious desserts prepared in a state-of-the-art facility with high standards of hygiene and quality. 

The most popular and special dishes at the plaza are the area specialities like dahi bhalla, a wide variety of parantha, chhole bhature, butter chicken, biryanis like the Hyderabadi anda (egg) biryani and the chicken dum biryani, a steal at ₹130 and ₹150 respectively. A must try are the Anglo-Indian railway staples — the railway chicken curry and the dry fruit cake, with the aromatic filter coffee. 

The menu will be refreshed and more iconic food items will be added in due course, says Sehgal. Efforts are also on to ensure that passengers can avail of food delivery inside the train at their seat by way of orders through e-catering facility of the railways.

There is also special emphasis on sustainability as the Bird Group strives to reduce environmental footprint by implementing eco-friendly practices and technologies. 

Sehgal says that this includes minimising waste, conserving energy, and promoting sustainable sourcing of raw materials. 

VARIETY: Chhole Bhature and Chicken Dum Biryani at the IRCTC Food Plaza at Delhi Junction

“We are committed to implementing waste reduction and recycling programs in all our operations; conserving energy through efficient operations and promoting the use of renewable energy sources wherever feasible; responsible use and conservation of water resources in our production processes and procuring raw materials and ingredients from sustainable sources, prioritising local and organic options when available,” he says.  

“We also emphasise use of eco-friendly practices, especially when it comes to packaging choices. Food packaging is done exclusively using paper products, steering clear of plastic entirely.” 

Bird Catering & Lounges has a diverse portfolio that includes airport executive lounges in Bhubaneswar, Dehradun, Calicut, a food court at the Lucknow International Airport Metro Station and food trucks at airports in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Trivandrum and Mangalore. 

The opening of this 24-hour Food Plaza at the Delhi Junction, marks its foray into the railways segment.

Similar food outlets are planned in other prominent locations such as Omaxe Mall in Chandni Chowk and ANS Mall in Tughlakabad, Haldwani Railway Station and Ambala Cantt Railway Station. 

In addition to 24×7 service of fresh meals, snacks and beverages, netizens of Delhi NCR can also order from the outlet through popular food aggregators. So, there is no reason to not dig into your meal of choice at any hour you fancy.