The book, Highway On My Plate-II is out, and so Kanika Sharma decided to chat up with the famous duo in-between nibbles and hot piping chai that Rocky almost stole from us at a popular foodie haunt in Mumabi
‘Be on time please,’ were repeated instructions I was given by Mayur Sharma when Rocky Singh affably squeezed in time for the interview on a rainy morning that was packed with work for the duo. As I ran to the cafe-cum-restaurant (where else) we settled into a chat with the unassuming ‘desi’ boys who wear all the information lightly on their shoulders.
Rocky seems to be in the habit of stealing food as he did our coffee. pic/Nimesh Dave
After scouring the length and breadth of India for eight years, the duo have released the book, Highway On My Plate (HOMP) -II after the first part, which came out in 2010. Somewhere later, Rocky will jovially remind me, “The first book is a bestseller. I don’t know if they told you that but I’d like to tell you because I am modest.” Now, out with the second, we sat down with Chilli Cheese Toast, Sausages, Eggs and coffee overlooking the pattering rain.
Aware that I had 30 minutes on me, I get the duo talking. “So tell us about HOMP-II?” Rocky, clearly loved talking and said, “The first book were episodes 1 to 100 of HOMP. Surprisingly, one day we got a call from Paris saying that we had won the Best Celebrity Cookbook at the 2012 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. We were shocked. They mentioned that the book had loads of information on all kinds of regional food that they had never seen before. So that’s when we realised what the value of the book is actually.”
The noble cook (Mayur-L) and the evil hunter (Rocky-R) cooking up trouble at Kathakali, Kerala pic courtesy/ HOMP-II
Rocky reminds me constantly that this guidebook helps people with questions like ‘Where do I go to eat in Guwahati?’ The book’s snappy format is based on queries like where to go, what to eat, how much it costs, what is their specialty, so on, so forth. With the entire 230 episodes covered between these two books, I became the devil’s advocate. The Mumbai bit in the book mentions regulars like — Café Mondegar, Bachelorr’s, Mahesh Lunch Home, and few more.
Finally, Mayur gave us the hard sell: “This book is what we covered on the show. It gives places where you get the best representative food of that city or that type of cuisine. Even if you buy both books, the maximum that you spend is Rs 600 and even in that you get 1,000 eateries across India. And you get about 7,000 kinds of food. That’s unique.”
He adds that each place is picked with a lot of effort and is meant for all kinds of readers. “So we genuinely believe that if you are in Mumbai, you must go to a Leopold or a Mondegar,” he signs off. We’ll believe.
On Punjabi cuisine
Punjabi cuisine is the Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan of cuisines. It’s everywhere. It’s sold out. Everybody wants it. Everybody loves it. They bitch about it. But at the end of the day, even in its most useless avatar people will go and see it, like the film, Kick. Punjabi cuisine is easy and fun. If you go down to Punjab, you get great stuff during Lohri, not just Makke ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag. It’s very seasonal.
Most underrated cuisine
It’s a very rich cuisine. They have 14-15 types of rice itself but as we say, it stands behind ‘The Great Wall of Bengal’. So everyone is enamoured with the food of Bengal, deservedly so, yet they overlook the food of Assam.
Why Mayur is vegetarian?
“Always have been. Even when I was little, I tried eating it. My family tried to get me to eat it. It’s just something about the textures and secondly, the thought that if I really, really don’t want to eat something, why should I?,” he says.
Highway On My Plate-II, Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma, Random House India, Rs 299. Available at leading bookstores.
Did you know?
HOMP has almost 3,00,000 images as of now of the cuisines all over India.
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