Each week, my Meal of the Week feature examines an airline meal from my travels over the years. This may be a meal from earlier in the week or it may be a meal served over a decade ago.
While perhaps not as crowd-pleasing as a hamburger or buffalo mac and cheese, Indian food provides airlines a great way to please crowds, cut costs, and even virtue signal support for the environment. I’m surprised we don’t see Indian vegetarian dishes more often on airplanes.
On a recent United flight from San Francisco to Washington Dulles, I opted for the Indian vegetarian option over a chicken breast. It was described as paneer with rice and since I had never tried this dish before on United, it was an easy choice.
While I was waiting for it, warmed nuts were served and I encountered pistachios in my mix…also a first on United. I’d love to see these every time.
My dish turned out to be paneer over basmati rice in a butter masala sauce with golden raisins. And it was delicious. On the side was a cabbage salad with lima beans and a pretzel roll.
I’m frankly surprised more airlines don’t offer Indian food more often. First, I suspect the paneer costs less than pork or beef. Second, it’s always nice to offer a vegetarian option on any meal service flight. Third, one could argue that offering more vegetarian choices is better for the environment since meat production and transport causes so many emissions. That’s always a stretch coming from an airline, but SAS and KLM seem to be embracing it…
In short, Indian food is generally one of the better dishes for reheating and for maintaining flavor in a pressurized airline environment at 35,000 feet. As United promises to offer more plant-based meals and vegetarianism seems to be catching on, look for more Indian options on future flights. It just makes cents…