The ever-smiling chef and TV personality, Gary Mehigan became a household name in India with Masterchef Australia. The author of four books, who bonds easily with the contestants, is back with a new show, Far Flung with Gary Mehigan on Fox Life.
This time he is set to hit the road on a bike. Gary, who loves to travel, says discovering a new place on a bike gives a different kind of high. Gary tells HT City how he fell in love with dosa and Indian cuisine. Excerpts:
Your new show explores your twin passions -food and biking. You take a culinary road trip across Asia on your new show. Tell us about your journey and that one place in Asia which surprised you with its culinary variety.
I love Indian cuisine. Simple dishes born out of necessity are often the best. Be it idli, appam, curd - the clever use of spices in these dishes are so unusual that most of the world has never seen them. Finding out how to make a dosa was a revelation, and I make them regularly at home now. It was also astonishing to see how fresh the fish was at the Chennai fish markets. I've never seen such variety.
Which places did you discover on the bike?
I am the ultimate food tourist. I don't go looking for monuments and cathedrals. I would rather discover restaurants, markets and local food producers. A great way to see a city is on the bike. It makes me feel like a local and gets me to places I might not normally visit. For the show, Far Flung with Gary Mehigan, I even visited the Royal Enfield factory and it was incredible… so clean, organised and efficient.
On this show, you start your culinary journey with India. Tell us about the places you loved the most.
Probably Jodhpur… the fort was amazing. The Blue City was incredible. I had never seen something like this before. Meeting the Maharaja and attending his full moon dinner was such a thrill. Kerala is high on the list, because I loved the lightness of the flavours down south. In India, it is hard to narrow it down to a few places, but it has given me a reason to go back and see Munnar in Kerala, Jaipur in Rajasthan and maybe north Sikkim. It's almost impossible to pick favourites among food.
You came across various spice markets in India. How was the experience and did you pick up any spices to take back home to Australia?
I think the different cooking methods are a big factor in Indian food, as well as the diversity from north to south. In India, the freshness and variety of the spices, salt, fruits and nuts in the old Delhi spice markets were incredible. I can't get anything like those in Australia. The herbs and spices I discovered had fragrance that I've never come across. The pine nuts in their shell and the array of different qualities of cashew nuts are incredible.
Dishes that stood out for Gary Mehigan during his culinary journey:
Masala dosa and pani puri
Hanoi pho and Banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake)
Roasted goose and noodles and Cheong fun (steamed rice roll)
Bibimbap and Shin cup spicy Ramyun
Crispy fish laap and Jeow mak kena (grilled eggplant dip)