Go Trotting! with Rocky and Mayur
Rocky and Mayur have become household names with their popular television show, Highway on my Plate, where they comb the entire country in search of good food.
In an exclusive interview with 10YearItch, Rocky & Mayur talk about their show, their debut book on Street Food, and how and where to find good food in India.
What is the story behind Highway on my Plate (HOMP)? How did the show come into being?
NDTV Goodtimes conceptualized a show of 13 episodes on travelling NH-1 from Delhi to Amritsar eating at dhabas along the way. Our friend Nikku and his production house were conducting auditions for the same. We were very interested as we have been travelling and eating along the highways of India for the past 3 decades. On the spur of the moment he decided to audition us for the show and now 5 years, over 150 episodes and 70,000 kms by road later we are still bringing our passion, enthusiasm and special brand of madness along as we travel the highways and cities of India.
What according to you clicked for HOMP to make it so popular?
HOMP is all about friendship, passion, food and travel, and a deep love and appreciation for the amazing diversity of India. We (RnM) have been best friends since 1976 and still live 5 houses down from each other. Whether on camera or off it we enjoy living, laughing, singing, dancing, poking fun at each other and of course eating. We bring this contagious sense of excitement along and enjoy watching it affect everyone in our vicinity be it the rest of the crew or anyone that features on our show.
There is no script and no fixed lines. We share our journey of discovery across our magnificent country and its amazing people, food, culture and landscapes. Who doesn’t love travel, food, friendship and laughing?
How do you select your destinations for the show?
It’s a combination of detailed research and on the spot discovery. Once a route is planned we speak to other foodies in the area, research food & travel related publications, and online articles/blogs to get a sense of what to expect. Once we are on the road it can be as simple as stopping at a place with a large crowd of happy eaters around it or speaking to the locals about their recommendations for amazing food in their cities.
Foodie first or Traveller first?
Rocky : We need to travel to get to the food. Once a foodie always a foodie.
Mayur : How does one pick a favourite child?
How do you guys figure out where to eat once you get to a place?
We refer to our research material but primarily we use our senses. If the place looks inviting and is crowded with happy diners, if the aromas that waft out are inviting, if the stories we hear of it are exciting, then we can be pretty sure that the tastes will be inviting and the experience worthwhile. This formula has served us well across over 500 eateries over 5 years.
As part of HOMP, is there any place where you failed to find good food?
When we travel on HOMP we are never very far from food as there is always a ready to eat and easy to reach tuck and snack bag. We have had occasions where recommended eateries have not been up to the mark. If that is the only food around we will eat it and share our thoughts on it, for or against. If you find a rating of 1 or 2 on RockynMayur’s Report Card then you know the food was dismal.
Which part of India has the meanest meat dishes?
Lucknow and its surrounding areas have the most amazing meat eating experiences on offer. A great example is the legendary Tunde Kababi whose mouth watering Gehlawati Kababs melt in your mouth leaving you astonished at the explosion of tastes thanks to the combination of 165 herbs and spices that go into them. In these areas you can also get lost in the magical tastes and textures of pasandas, ranns, kormas and and…aaagh no more no more…all this is making Rocky ravenous!!!! Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal are other powerhouses of ‘non-vegetarian’ food.
Tell us about the HOMP – The Indian Guide To Roadside Eating?
If you are passionate about food, love travel and, enjoy discovering new tastes and flavours then this is THE book for you. Our book has details on great places to eat along the highways and cities of India, North-South, East-West and everywhere in between. There are also interesting tidbits (not the ones you munch on) on the places, people, sights and culture of the areas we visit. The book has been on the bestseller lists since its launch and has been recommended for the World Gourmand Awards 2011 in Paris.
The book can be purchased from Flipkart.
Your favorite eatery in India?
Rocky: Breakfast @ Pappi Dhaba, Sanjauli near Shimla; Lunch @ Tunde Kababi, Lucknow; Dinner@ Ponnuswamy, Chennai; Morning snack @ Gaba Dabeli, Mandvi; Evening snack @ Jaani Farsan, Surat.
Breakfast @ Kanha Sweets, Amritsar; Lunch @ Ummiya Kathiawadi, Anand, Gujarat; Dinner @ Kesar Dhaba, Amritsar; Morning snack @ Muruggan Idli, Chennai; Evening snack @ Raja Bhau Bhel, Kolhapur.
Now all we need is a helicopter to do all this in a day. Believe us..it’s worth it!!!
Any travel advice for our readers?
When we travel we take along a sense of curiosity and an innate acceptance that the plan will evolve as we amble along. A sense of timelessness, the desire to really get lost in experiences along the way, and an ability to laugh it all off are invaluable. What is there in your bag O traveller?
What’s next for Mayur and Rocky?
We will continue to live, love, laugh, and lose ourselves in everything we do.
Our ‘reel’ work on Highway On My Plate will take viewers along as we discover the enchanting canvas of India albeit through different lens. HOMP-Fans and HOMP-Festivals which are currently running are a good example of this. HOMP-The Indian guide to Roadside Eating Part II is on the anvil with the offer of even more iconic eateries across India.
Through our company MindsEye, our ‘real’ work of facilitating corporate learning and training programs for organisations such as Puma, Nokia-Siemens Networks, IBM, Microsoft, Tata Motors to name a few.
We are currently too busy to accept the numerous offers for ramp modelling that we get thanks to our lean physiques and good looks!
We engage with our fans (aka fellow lovers of food and travel) primarily through the HOMP-Highway On My Plate fan page on Facebook. www.rockyandmayur.com has more information of interest to those that are curious.