True blue foodies

True blue foodies

TV's dynamic duo Rocky & Mayur talk about eating their way across India and curating lesser-known cuisines.

True blue foodies

Known for their popular TV show Highway on My Plate — a part travelogue, part bromance and part comedy — Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma were recently in Bengaluru for the ‘Food Trippin’ event organised by ClearTrip. Rocky and Mayur’s enthusiasm for food and their quirky sense of humour came alive during their Thai food masterclass.

“ClearTrip has a great thing going on. It’s a great way to find the best food across the country. And when you think of great food, you always have to think of Rocky and Mayur. We’re cheap like that — we always land up where great food is served,” guffaws Rocky.

What draws you to food?
Rocky: Ha! Look at our size. It’s a match made in heaven. We just look at food and it’s love at first sight, always.

What made you want to explore the country through food?
Mayur: In the last 10 years, we have travelled more than 400,000 km by road, and a lot more by train and flight. We’ve eaten all across the country, and we’ve been paid to do it. Food is something that everyone loves, and it is a beautiful way to explore the country. By loving our food, and understanding more about other cuisines, we realise that we are all essentially the same. Forget about North Indian, South Indian or East Indian. Everything is Indian food and each has its own flavour. A dish may be made differently, but at the end of the day, it’s all about cooking it with love and enjoying it with people you love.

Rocky: When we first started, the food scene was quite dismal, because burger joints and Chinese food stalls were taking over, and all of us were migrating towards international cuisines. Our goal, right from the word ‘go’, has been to bring the thousands of brilliant Indian culinary traditions to the Indian audience.

If we don’t start making these cuisines popular, they will die out. We have such a vast knowledge and a wealth of food. Over the years, Mayur and I have eaten over 7,000 dishes across India. However, we have only touched 10% of the food India has to offer. That’s around 100,000 dishes that need to be tried. And if we don’t do it, who’s going to do it? So, we have a calling from the gods. We are the superheroes bringing food to you from across India.

How can unknown dishes be brought into the spotlight?
Rocky: Food shows are a great way to catalogue and introduce Indian food. Also, with the restaurant business booming, I think that there is enough space for regional speciality restaurants to come up in the country. Now even home cooks have the opportunity to cash in on their talents by having people come over to their homes to taste traditional delicacies. These are great ways to bring lesser known dishes to the fore.

What defines Indian food and the changes that it is experiencing?
Rocky: Indian food is simply defined by the use of spices. A majority of our dishes constitute unique combinations of spices, and we have become quite good at using them in the last 3,000 years. Change is the only constant, and food is no exception. In the future, the Indian food experience is going to move to ‘easier-to-eat’ foods. Presentation is a facet of Indian food that will experience huge changes.

Which is your favourite cuisine?
Rocky: If I pick a cuisine with respect to a state, I think the many cuisines of Kerala are my favourite. Whether it is Syrian Christian, Arab-influenced cuisine or South Kerala food, I just love the food from the state. Also, my favourite food city is Bengaluru, and my favourite cuisine to eat will be Lucknow’s Awadhi food.

Mayur: I’m vegetarian and I love any state that puts out great vegetarian fare. My favourite states for food are Punjab, Gujarat, and surprisingly, Bengal. The vegetarian food in Bengal is fabulous. But if I have to pick a dish, it would be the mochar paturi, and from Kerala, the breakfast puttu-kadla and the chole-batura from Delhi.

Has finding vegetarian food become easier today for the global traveller?
Mayur: I think it has become easier as a lot of people today believe that a vegetarian or vegan diet is easier on the body and a healthier alternative.

Is there a cuisine that you recommend we try?
Rocky: I urge people to try Assamese food. It is little known and vastly underrated. It is a powerhouse cuisine and deserves more place in the sun.

What’s your idea of comfort food?
Rocky: Chicken curry, bhindi and hot rotis with onion and chilli.
Mayur: Dal, rice and pickle.

Where are you headed next?
Rocky: We’re doing a new show on Living Foodz that should be out soon. We are also heading to Australia.