Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma are the rock stars of the Indian food scene. I’m devoted to their insanely popular TV show Highway on my Plate, on NDTV Good Times. In their quest to track down the authentic dishes of India, these guys spend most of the year on the road – there are dhaba-wallahs in Tamil Nadu who see more of them than their wives!
They’ve ad-libbed their way round this vast country eating everything from Juma (blood sausages) in Arunachal Pradesh to Karimeen in Kerala, they’ve hung out in tribal huts and army camps, they’ve been feted and berated and they do it all with huge charm and panache.
In a time of creeping MacDonalds and KFC, their enthusiasm for India’s street food is irrepressible and infectious. I’m a huge fan and couldn’t have been more chuffed when the publishers of the new book of the series asked me to help launch it.
In a packed tent at the back of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club on a chilly ‘Lohri’ evening last week I got the chance to quiz them about where their great foodie adventure began.
Rocky and Mayur have known each other since they were kids, growing up in the same South Delhi street, and fondly remember all the neighbourhood ‘aunties’ who used to feed them. As young men they would frequently take off on road trips which largely revolved around food. Which is pretty much the winning formula of their TV show and as Rocky said ‘find something you love doing and you’ll never have to work again’.
As huge champions of what they call the ‘real food of India’, they spoke about their fears that the wildly varied regional food of the country is at risk of being lost in the headlong rush towards global chains and food courts. The book is a wonderful attempt to point us in the right direction, packed with detailed and loving descriptions of unusual dishes we should all get out and try before they disappear.
Rocky and Mayur – food heroes and thoroughly nice blokes – oh and as you can see really, really tall!
Highway on my Plate, Random House rs 299