Indian flavours infuse MasterChef Australia

When Ms Sarah Todd, fashion model-turned-restaurateur, made aloo gobi (potato-cauliflower dish) on the sets of MasterChef Australia in 2014, it made headlines because Indian food was then still a novelty Down Under.

But, with Justin Narayan, an Australian youth pastor of Fiji-Indian origin, becoming the second person of Indian descent to win MasterChef Australia, wowing the judges with his Indian take on chicken tacos, it's now official: Indian flavours have arrived and are there to stay in Australia.

The first person of Indian extraction to top the popular reality TV show was Singapore-born Sashi Cheliah, a former prison guard, who lifted the trophy and the prize money of A$250,000 in 2018.

In this year's final, which was telecast on Tuesday, Narayan, 27, pipped Indian-Bangladeshi Kishwar Chowdhury, who had the judges literally eating out of her hand with her panta bhaat (leftover rice that has fermented overnight).

What Ms Chowdhury called smoked rice water is a humble peasant dish, the ultimate summer cooler. It is served with pakodas (spiced fritter) and a sour preparation made with Mourola fish (a freshwater delicacy found in east Bengal).

She served the panta bhaat with aloo bhorta (boiled potatoes mashed with hot mustard oil, onions and green chillies). She added sardines and salsa to make it a truly crossover dish.

"Indian flavours are now mainstream, unlike how they were perceived when I appeared on MasterChef Australia," said Ms Todd, who informed a global audience at a recent webinar how paani poori (north Indian snack) has become the rage all over her country.

"You can now buy paani poori shells at your local grocery store," she said.

Indo-Asian News Service

"Indian flavours are now mainstream, unlike how they were perceived when I appeared on MasterChef Australia."

- Restaurateur Sarah Todd

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