“Happy and Hungry to make an abode in refrigerator!”
“Highway On My Plate – An Indian Guide to Roadside Eating covers eateries we visited across India during the first 100 episodes of the show. It offers information and insights not just on the eateries and the food offered there but also interesting tidbits of information on the culture and lives of the people there. There is a wealth of information featuring over 500 dishes in 200+ eateries and a range of cuisines that is unmatched by the collective cuisines of any 20 countries the world over.”
“If they invite us to their homes, they can expect two very large, happy and hungry men to land up and take abode in their refrigerators or their kitchens !”
Full on! With unmatched energy, the duo has done 80,000 kilometers to bring in freshness, fun, laughter and food from all around India in a style that is so distinctive. Sundays! 20:00 EST! And Highway on My Plate is nothing short of a ritual for lot many South Asians who prefer skipping dinner and marriage parties to watch Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma sampling a range of cuisine! The channel had to concede to the demands of the fans and the show appears daily on NDTV Good Times.
Last month, the duo’s book, Highway On My Plate – An Indian Guide to Roadside Eating that has been a bestseller since its launch early 2011 won the award for ‘Best Celebrity Cookbook’ at the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris where books from over 170 countries were competing for awards. In an exclusive “Chit Chat over food” at Patiala with Sukhpreet Giani, the two stunning eaters and fantastic entertainers Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma share ………..
“Highway On My Plate (HOMP) was initially conceptualized as series showcasing the dhabas(local eateries) on NH-1 between Delhi & Amritsar. We decided that every element of the show had to be about fun, passion, complete involvement and a celebration of life,” says Rocky Singh. Bold enough to ditch the script the duo made HOMP a show about loving life, food, friends and showcasing amazing India. “HOMP has no scripted lines and no fixed ‘correct’ way of doing things. We live in the moment and continuously search for the “Wow” as we explore the roads, lanes, people and of course the food across India,” says Mayur Sharma.
“The original plan was for a 1 season, 13-episode show. Now after 5 years, 160+ episodes and close to 80,000 kms of travel by road the show still goes on,” adds Mayur. “We have explored the people, eateries and cuisines of every state in India barring Manipur & Tripura and that’s over a 100 cities,” says Rocky. With over 5000 followers on Facebook, holding monthly HOMP meets trying to explore food, travel and above all imitate the duo; both Rocky and Mayur are any foodie’s pride.
“We keep changing the lens through different ideas such as HOMP: Fans (visiting cities to eat with fans at eateries recommended by them), HOMP: Festivals (exploring the culture of India through its festivals and of course the food), HOMP: International (exploring the influence of Indian tastes and spices in the cuisines of countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore etc.) and HOMP:Addas (exploring food in college and school canteens across India),” says Rocky, “The lens may change but the canvas remains the same – an exploration and discovery of India through its food !”
“The food quote” is a sheer delight for the viewers. Quotes full of wit give an apparent hint of being the handiwork of Rocky & Mayur than the script writer. “There is no script writer for HOMP. As with every dialogue, observation and comment on the show the food quote is completely impromptu” says Rocky; and is made up on the spot by the duo with “Abhinandan Sekhri, the irrepressible, mad director of the show,” adds Rocky. “We try and make it rhyme and have some relevance to the episode though we must confess that sometimes we just go with what makes us laugh no matter how nonsensical it comes out sounding,” says Mayur.
As the TV show HOMP began to get popular a lot of people started writing in to ask where they should eat as they travelled to different parts of India. “We kept replying with recommendations until we came to a point where we could not keep up with the huge flood of queries. So to share our knowledge and to encourage more people to go out and enjoy the real food of India we decided to write a food guide,” says Mayur. They are delighted and the Indians are proud, as an Indian book proudly bears the ‘Best in the World’ caption.
Food took them to places totally unexplored. Leh and Ladakh and even base camp at Saichen close to the members of defence forces. “The members of the Indian Armed Forces are amazing examples of courage, integrity, perseverance and sheer love and devotion for India. They go to any length required in their defence of our nation and many have happily laid down their lives for just this cause”, feel the two ‘fauji brats’ – sons of soldiers, “We take great pride in this!” And soon a new program “ Jai Hind” was conceived. In ‘Jai Hind with Rocky & Mayur’, they visited different units of the Indian Armed Forces to share with the conditions under which soldiers work, train and when required fight. “We explored the depths of a naval submarine, marveled at the sheer size and complexity of an aircraft carrier and covered our ears to protect them from the teeth-rattling boom of fighter jets taking off,” says Rocky.
“We marvelled at commandos, who think nothing of 50 km runs with a 50lb load on their backs, got soaked with sweat and swallowed dust along with an artillery unit operating at 55°C, and shivered as we learnt the tricks of surviving and operating at 15,000ft and -30°C from our high altitude warriors,” adds Mayur. The experience of sharing the food with the soldiers made them discover men and women united in their fierce love for the country and their delight in food. “No challenge is too great whether it’s fighting the enemy, arranging daily meals for over 2000 sailors on a ship, or surviving for 72 hours on a diet of rainwater and insects. All in a days’ work. Jai Hind!,” shared the fantastic food guru duo.
Responding to the question on what can fans expect in days to come, the duo says in an enchanting unison, “We are working on the second instalment of the book to share the inside stuff on more cuisines, menus and eateries across India.” And if the fans happen to meet them, “they can expect warm hospitality, unabashed curiosity, lots of laughter, maybe a song and definitely lots of amazing food across a variety of cuisines,” says Mayur. “If they invite us to their homes, they can expect two very large, happy and hungry men to land up and take abode in their refrigerators or their kitchens !”, adds Rocky. For all those who are interested in food, friendship, and India, “ they can expect to enjoy more shows that showcase the diversity, uniqueness and the sheer joy for the life less ordinary in India that is best shared over many a meal,” share the duo.
Indo Canadians too have joined the journey with HOMP having television viewing more of fun. “It’s got friendship, fun, food, laughter and stories of India that will make you marvel,” assure the food gurus of India.