August 2021 \ Diaspora News \ DIASPORA NEWS—AUSTRALIA, UAE, CANADA
Indian flavours infuse MasterChef Australia Season 13 finale

When Sarah Todd, fashion model-turned-restaurateur ...

  • Mr Justin Narayan

When Sarah Todd, fashion model-turned-restaurateur, made ‘aloo-gobhi’ on the sets of MasterChef Australia in 2014, it made headlines because Indian food was then still a novelty Down Under. 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 Oz. The first person of Indian extraction to top the popular reality TV show was SashiCheliah, a prison guard, who lifted the trophy and walked home with the prize money of A$250,000 (a little under Rs 1.40 crore) in 2018. In the 2021 final, which was telecast in July, Narayan, 27, pipped a challenger of Indian-Bangladeshi origin, Kishwar Chowdhury, who got the judges literally eating out of her hand with her ‘panta-bhaat’. What Chowdhury called Smoked Rice Water is a humble peasant dish, the ultimate summer cooler, of cooked rice soaked in water overnight, served with ‘pakodas’ and a sour preparation made with ‘mourola’ fish, lashed with a generous squeeze of the fragrant ‘gondhoraj’ lime. Chowdhury served ‘paantabhaat’ with ‘aloobhorta’ (the Bangladeshi equivalent of ‘aloobhaat’—boiled potatoes mashed with hot mustard oil, onions and green chillies—served on the Indian side of the Great Bengali Divide). What Chowdhury did was add sardines and salsa to make it truly a crossover dish.

Indian flavours are now mainstream, unlike how they were perceived when I appeared on MasterChef Australia,” said Todd, who informed a global audience at a recent webinar how ‘paanipoori’ had become the rage all over her country. “You can now buy ‘paanipoori’ shells at your local grocery store,” she said. Interestingly, Todd, who now runs the Antares restaurant and beach club in Goa, was speaking to IANS from her home city, Melbourne, as she was returning from dinner at a popular new Indian restaurant named ‘Daughter-in-Law’.