Designed by the Defence Food Research Laboratory at Mysore, the menu will be tested on the four IAF trainee astronauts. The DFRL kitchen is developing foods fit for astronauts

BANGALORE: The astronaut chosen to journey to outer space as part of India’s Gaganyaan mission late next year or early 2022 will not have to forego Indian food during his sojourn. A very desi menu featuring Dal, Aloo Parathas, Chicken Curry, Pulao and almonds will be available to him on board the craft, after being subjected to stringent quality control on par with US-NASA standards. 

The Indian astronaut’s breakfast, lunch and dinner menu will draw from a spread of 22 Indian dishes and fruit juices—in all weighing 60 kg and 100 litres of water. It has been designed by the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) at Mysore to suit the palate of the four Indian astronauts to be trained for the week-long sojourn in outer space.

“We have sent samples (of the dishes and other eatables) to ISRO for tests with regard to palatability and other factors like zero microbe standards. Some of them will be tasted by the IAF pilots short-listed by ISRO for the space flight. The flavour will be modified to suit their taste,” Dr Anil Dutt Semwal, director of DFRL, told Deccan Chronicle on the sidelines of the 107th Indian Science Congress in Bangalore.

Dr Semwal said the food will be wrapped in special disposable packaging material designed to prevent contamination. The eatables can be warmed using the food warmers on board the spacecraft. “Every dish will be mildly spicy but we will provide extra taste makers if the astronauts want to eat highly spiced food,” he added. 

Dr Semwal said nutrition bars, powdered fruit juice, almonds and nuts will form part of the food package for the Indian astronauts so that they can snack during breaks.

Asked why the lab was following standards set by NASA and not Russia where the four pilots will be trained, he said the US space agency followed extremely stringent quality control standards.