Of Cooking and Cooking Scenes!

We love everything to do with food at Zoink! This includes eating (a lot of it), cooking (whipping up culinary experiments by the fly), food critiquing (I think the pasta is done a little too a la dente, don’t you?) and being active foodographers (ensuring our drool doesn’t end up in the final shot). We also like reading up on a lot of food trends, and watching a lot of cookery shows.

India's favourite celebrity chef - Sanjeev Kapoor

Growing up, there was only one cookery show that stood out – Khana Khazana. Sanjeev Kapoor in his chef coat (a national television debut), with a pleasant smiling face calling your Dals ‘lentils’ and Idlis ‘savoury rice cakes’, and you believing that this was as gourmet as it could get! Well, we don’t blame you. Sanjeev Kapoor still remains one of our all time favourite TV chefs – he slowly evolved a traditional cookery show (mainly aimed at the housewives) to a more epicurean meal seeking audience over the years (the show has been running successfully for 17 years now, in case you were wondering).

While Khana Khazana was still reigning the number one position in cookery shows in India, a host of other not mention-worthy cookery shows spawned up on Star One much later (we remember one on a very good looking couple doing pretty much nothing – was that the Munshi guy?), another good looking guy cooking only with preservatives and canned food (no, this was the Munshi guy) and some random other flop shows. For more than a decade, Khana Khazana was by far the best Indian cookery show.

When NDTV Good Times launched, however, so did a variety of cookery shows – Cooking isn’t Rocket Science, Italian Khana (this Dalmia woman somehow just annoyed us), Chak Le India (no comments here whatsoever), etc. But the one that really caught everyone’s attention was the simple and funny Highway on my Plate. Trying just Dhabas and other popular roadside stalls and lesser known eateries, their solitary aim was to discover such culinary delights on the roads less travelled and share the stories of the unsung hero of an eatery with the viewers.

Highway on my Plate with Rocky and Mayur

Not only was this show one the highest TRP (Television Rating Points) earner for NDTV Good Times, but became instantly popular with a lot of Indian viewers as many could connect with that (we were a part of that audience as well). The candidly expressed views, the humour, and the fun camaraderie between India’s most famous foodie hosts Rocky and Mayur made this show a hit among the Indian audience. In addition, with one being vegetarian and the other being a carnivore, the reviews were honest, to the point and relatable to many of the viewers.

Gourmet Chef - Vicky Ratnani

 Gourmet Central(also on NDTV Good Times) hosted by Vicky Ratnani is another good show. He takes simple ingredients and turns them into gourmet delights. Ratnani’s techniques are quite refined and his humour, er, slapstick, but moderately entertaining. The spinoff of this show is currently being aired as Vicky Goes Veg and has him whipping up some fabulous vegetarian delicacies. More than anything, in addition to being a good presenter, this man can actually cook, unlike many others with their own cookery show on this channel.

Masterchef Australia (Gary, Matt, George)

Most recently, however, Masterchef Australia has taken over as our new favourite show. It’s not a cookery show per se, but is one hell of a ‘master’piece in every sense. The judges Gary, George and Matt are not just helpful to the participants, but also offer them constructive criticism (not in Gordon Ramsay style, but in a manner that makes it easy to receive such criticism). The techniques taught in Master Class, the innovative challenges (we hope you didn’t miss the Gingerbread House challenge) and the quality of food and work executed in this show was by far the most impressive among all food related shows we’ve ever seen. Yes, there was Masterchef USA and Masterchef India, but we felt that both the shows lacked spirit and fury of Masterchef Australia on so many levels!

So, yes, that’s pretty much Zoink!’s opinion on food based shows in India. But we’d love to hear yours too! Do you think we’ve missed out any? Or have an idea for one of our posts? Feel free to share, we love hearing from our Zoinkers! 🙂