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Kashmir’s Sandeep Pandit wins hearts in MasterChef Australia

Kashmiri techie Sandeep Pandit creates waves in 'MasterChef Australia ...

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Sandeep Pandit from Kashmir is exploring the culinary heritage of his roots as a contestant on MasterChef Australia. He has left the judges of the international reality TV show impressed. Sandeep has been preparing Rogan Josh, Yakhni, Muji Chetin, Dhungar, Kahwa, Kabargah and Tehr, on the show judged by Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston.

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the Indian IT Project Manager turned MasterChef contestant scored a perfect 30/30 and won the coveted Immunity Pin for cooking typical desi khana (Indian food). Sandeep had the judges in raptures with his platter of lemon pepper chicken with lemon rice and raita. He had also made the masala lobster, which was presented in a lobster shell. MasterChef Judge Gary Mehigan remarked, ‘There are angels singing somewhere’.

The dish revealed the traditional Indian smoking style where Sandeep smoked the dish with fenugreek and ghee.

Currently, among the top 22 in the contest, Sandeep Pandit recently earned an apron – a milestone in the competition – which is earned only if all judges approve of the dish served.

He said, “I cooked a South Indian prawn curry which earned me the apron — no small feat for an amateur cook like myself. I touched Matt’s and my mentor’s feet. I told them that it is part of Indian culture to show respect to our guru (teacher). I told them how important this apron is for someone who was displaced from his homeland and fell on bad times.”

Sandeep was born in Kashmir in the early 1980s and spent eight years there with his family before militancy forced them south. They left all their possessions and migrated to Bengaluru in 1990. The family didn’t have a fridge, so his mother taught him how to cook ‘dal’ without having it stick to the hotplate, and how to boil food to prevent it spoiling.

Sandeep, who has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration, soon developed a taste for cooking.

His presence on MasterChef Australia had even caught the attention of Jammu and Kashmir’s former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

“We have a Kashmir connection in this season of Masterchef Australia. Rooting for Sandeep Pandit. Already we’ve seen his Rogan Josh and he wowed the judges with his Kashmiri Yakhni. Can’t wait to see how far he goes,” Abdullah tweeted last month.

Sandeep Pandit came to Australia in late 2016 as an IT project manager with a multinational company and is based in Melbourne. His dream is to open a food stall selling Indian BBQ meat cooked over coals and biryani dishes.

We too are rooting for Sandeep Pandit, what about you?

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