Murgh Rihana, other signature Indian dishes on Air India's San Francisco flight

New Delhi: Air India's Delhi-San Francisco flight slated for launch next month will not only offer non-stop connectivity to the US west coast but also allow passengers to sample a variety of Indian cuisines on board.

 Murgh Rihana, other signature Indian dishes on Air Indias San Francisco flight

An Air India aircraft. PTI

Instead of asking its in-house catering division to devise the menu for this high-profile flight, Air India has roped in the chief executive chef of The Ashok to design an all-new menu. Rajan Loomba will be developing signature dishes to be served on board but the actual catering will be left to catering partners such as TajSats and the Ambassador Flight Kitchen.

Unlike other legacy airlines, Air India does not have a resident chef - a glitch it is trying to fix. But in the meantime, chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani persuaded old colleague Loomba to design a special 'Indian' menu for this flight.

Speaking to Firstpost, Loomba said there will be a special emphasis on showcasing north Indian cuisine initially. Murgh Rihana, a signature dish of Oudh (one of the restaurants under the Ashok) will be on the menu and that special emphasis will be given to how the food is presented, not just taste.

"We want to use this opportunity to showcase Indian cuisine and most likely, the split between Indian and continental cuisine on the flight would be 70:30 or even 80:20. We will suggest a change in crockery and cutlery, napkins for the food service to look appealing. Food is first experienced through the eyes and must look good. It must say pick me up.....we will devise 4-5 items for each meal," Loomba said. Since this is a 16-hour non-stop flight, there will be two full meals besides a hi-tea on board.

The Delhi-SFO service is a thrice-a-week flight and airline officials said today 73 percent seats on all flights in December, ex-India, have been booked already. Bookings for return flights are at 80 percent. The new flight will be a first between Delhi and the West Coast of the United States and Air India expects passengers from other Indian cities to come to Delhi via the Air India network for their journey onward to SFO.

"The flight will be a boon to the Indian diaspora on the US West coast. It will make travel easy and convenient for students and parents of NRIs.....Passengers from seven cities, all IT hubs in India i.e. Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Ahmedabad and Pune will have seamless connections to the flight from Delhi. Likewise, the return flight from San Francisco will provide onward connections to nine cities i.e. Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Pune and Bhubaneswar," Air India had said earlier.

The airline will use the Boeing 777-200LR aircraft for this flight. The flight will offer a 3-cabin configuration, with eight seats in First Class, 35 seats in Business Class and 195 seats in Economy Class. This will change to a two-class configuration when there is change in the aircraft seven-eight months down the line, with First Class being removed. Air India's will be the first non-stop flight to operate on the Delhi-SFO sector. San Francisco will become Air India’s fourth destination in the United States - it already operates daily non-stop flights to New York (JFK), Newark (EWR) and Chicago (ORD).

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Updated Date: Nov 03, 2015 20:37:00 IST