Idly Vada, a start-up promises to deliver freshly made food on trains

Most of us take bundles of packed food for long train journeys. By the end of one day, the rasam is cold, the rotis are like cardboard and the curd has gone sour while you’re really dreaming of hot, steaming food. Here’s something that might help.

Idly Vada, a start-up by Dinesh Kumar and Smitha Sharma hopes to offer hot, quality food at your seat, while you’re travelling. How exactly? You can either call their helpline or visit their website to order in from the list of restaurants they’ve tied up with at a particular station. “Say, you are travelling from Chennai to Rameswaram, and you stop somewhere in between, such as Trichy or Salem,” says Dinesh, “the restaurants or messes we have tie-ups with near the Salem or Trichy stations will take your order and deliver the food to your seat.”

Barely a month old, the website has already catered to about 100 orders and works with restaurants in 25 stations (serving up to 400 trains).

A call away

“When you place your order online or call us, an SMS and email are sent to the restaurant immediately. Since we’re new, we only have cash-on-delivery orders,” he adds. The minimum order differs from station to station (for example, in Chennai it is Rs. 150) and the order must be placed at least 120 minutes before the customer reaches that station.

The website comes with a drop-down menu that lists the trains, and one can enter journey dates and select the station the food must be delivered to. The call centre is open between 8.30 a.m. and 10 p.m. “There is a filtering process through which we choose the restaurants we tie-up with. For example, in Chennai Central, we have a mess that is run from home, which delivers north Indian fare. We even offer a Rajasthani thali here. And everyone who has ordered in Chennai has told us they loved it,” says Dinesh.

Dinesh hopes to spread this across more stations and tie-up with more restaurants. And Dinesh calls this Idly Vada because, “It’s a combination we all love, no matter which part of the country we’re from,” he smiles.

(For details, visit Idly Vada at