Being raised as the son of an Indian Army officer means Ronnie Singh saw plenty of the sub-continent as a child.
“My dad was in the army for 30 years, so I’ve pretty much travelled that country. I can’t pinpoint a place exactly where I could say I’m from.”
Nevertheless, after being being in Ballarat for 10 years, he knows that the foods he tried as he travelled in India will be attractive to people in Ballarat – and he can’t think of a better way to deliver them than through a travelling food van.
“I've always had a dream, since I was 14, to open my own food venue, to be a food vendor. And I’ve looked at different options in Ballarat, like opening a restaurant. There’s nothing in Ballarat quite like an Indian food truck, which serves authentic Indian meals with quick service,” says Ronnie.
Ronnie’s partner Hayley Faull has a farming background, which meant she was able to advise her husband about the quality of lamb available locally.
“I’m from Streatham. Dad had a farm out there and we’ve cooked for Mum and Dad plenty of times.”
Indeed it was Hayley’s father who suggested the lamb korma might be a big hit in Ballarat.
“Over the years his comments – ‘Jeez that lamb’d taste nice in a curry’, or ‘that mutton is aged enough to be in a korma’ – made me realise his knowledge about flavours means he knows what meat will be better.”
Ronnie says his cuisine is authentically Indian, but with a touch of Western restraint.
“There are three different, main inspirations for my food. My father was in the Madras Infantry Regiment which is down south, so my beef curry is a Kerala curry, which is a neighbouring state of Madras. The lamb is the inspiration from Australia; and the butter chicken is from New Delhi, where my family is originally from.
“So the three main roots of my existence are on my menu.”
Hayley and Ronnie met while working in the restaurant and bar of the Mid-City Motel. While Ronnie says he works during the day for the National Australia Bank, he’s grateful to them for the space and support they’ve give to the couple to pursue their food dream.
“They encourage people to have a go at their own businesses and passions,” says Ronnie.
“We’d like to do private and corporate catering, sporting and musical events and farmers’ markets. The kind of food I’m serving, and the quality of food I’m serving, is totally different from other vans in Ballarat.”
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