Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Masterchef India 3 Behind the Scenes; the Other side of Reality TV.

I’m a big fan of Masterchef. I’ve seen most of the seasons of Masterchef Australia and love every single episode. I’d seen the Indian version as well, season 1 mainly and portions of season 2. Evidently, Masterchef Australia is different from Masterchef UK or USA, as it is different from Masterchef India. My mother and I completely adored the ghevar cake and rasgulla cake in Season 1. I never knew that India had such great techniques in cooking like the stone and wood-plank cooking task in season 2. I really wanted to work for Masterchef India. I would religiously call the production house’s board line at lunch hour for 8 months before the project finally started and I got that interview. Only the security guard knew who I was then.

Working on Masterchef for one who loves food today, is more a matter of honour and pride, than anything else. I’m proud too, proud of what I have learned from this project. Each time I would meet a contestant and speak to them about their food, I would feel more and more intimidated by the greatness of Indian food. There are so many cultures, little villages and regions, so many diverse food habits that I learned about. An ingredient as simple as a potato or okra, can be cooked in no less than a hundred different styles. Just by altering the proportions of simple spice combinations you can make a whole different dish. The treasure of knowledge in our country’s cooks is far greater than any other, and I only came to learn this during the Masterchef Auditions.

We went to cities and villages to research our tasks and in search of the best cooks. What I found was, ingredients and cooking methods that I had never seen before. Dafan and loon cooking, which I believed to be contemporary styles turned out to be techniques from the villages! Have you heard of Murgh Shikasta Haripasand Faizabadi? Well, I hadn’t either but then we met the man himself, food historian and writer, Professor Pushpesh Pant for his valuable inputs on this show. We met Chefs and culinary experts from across the country to bring out the best of Indian food in this show. The unheard techniques and principles in Ayurvedic cooking that can be brought out of the closet on the show. The dying art of making a ‘Poothereku’ that you will witness on the show. 

We have spent 3 months on just getting our hands on this beautiful art of making a Poothereku. Each day we would come in to the kitchen and make a fresh batter, speak to more regional cooks; call sweet shops in Andhra just to get that one task right. We didn’t give up and I still remember chanting a prayer during the task, hoping our contestants were brilliant enough to get it right. They were, they all were brilliant enough to make a perfect Poothereku.

A team of over a hundred people is working night and day on making a show that brings out the best cooks and the best food in India. There are so many aspects to a show and so many people’s effort goes in making it. We still wake up inspired, each day, with pride because we are working for Masterchef India 3. Television is a medium that brings the real stories of Indian people home, and the show is a reflection of the spirit and talent of India. My love for Indian food is sincere and I salute Masterchef India for showcasing its brilliance on the show.