From gobi parathas and onion pakoras to a more elaborate chicken biryani, Indian-origin chef Depinder Chhibber has made her mark on the thirteenth season of Masterchef Australia (streaming on Disney+ Hotstar) by highlighting India’s household flavours on a global platform. If you’re curious to know more about the young chef’s multi-ethnic background and culinary journey. Depinder Chhibber was born in New Delhi and moved to Newcastle at the age of 11. She now lives in Sydney with her husband Gurkirat, whom she counts as her biggest source of support. Chhibber belongs to a big family, of which, only her immediate relatives live in Australia— everyone else resides in India. She may have a relentless passion for cooking, but when she’s not in the kitchen, Chhibber is actually a pharmacist by profession, just like her father. In fact, she’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in the same field.
Here is Depinder Chhibber in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) How did your journey as a cook begin?
I don’t remember when I started cooking but most of my memories as a child are basically from when I was either helping someone cook and watching them cook. I don’t remember ever not cooking. I think this curiosity around food solidified after I finished school and I had a bit more time to experiment and play around with flavours. I started baking and decorating cakes and over the last few years and it has become such an important part of my life.
2) Who has been your inspiration?
I have been inspired by watching my aunts, mum, grandmothers as I was a child but also TV stars back in India such as Sanjeev Kapoor and Tarla Dalal. I grew up watching them on TV and I loved the way they simplified Indian home cooking. Growing up I started following chefs around the world such a Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay and this also gave me an idea about different cuisines and other dishes I had never heard of or made before.
3) Why did you think the idea of cooking Indian Food in MasterChef Australia will work?
Indian food is what I know and what I cook, I kickstarted the competition with my signature dish which was Ghevar. I didn’t think I’d cook a lot of Indian food as I’m quite fond of making desserts too, but it somehow suited quite a few of the challenges presented to us during the competition. Thankfully the judges loved Indian food, which was a blessing for me, and they encouraged me to cook as I would normally cook and not to alter my dishes according to their palette.
4) How did you feel after getting such good compliments for your Indian dishes?
I was blown away because the judges have had a lot of Indian food during their culinary careers. Jock grew up in the UK and Indian food is probably the most popular cuisine in the UK. So for someone who grew up eating curries, I was scared to cook Indian food for him but he was so encouraging and he loved my curries. I felt extremely reassured when the judges approved my Indian flavours especially my home-style Indian food.
5) Tell us about your experience in MasterChef Australia.
MasterChef has been an experience of its own, in all the best possible ways. It’s the best platform in Australia showcasing home cooks and their culinary journey. It sets the benchmark for cooking shows all over the world and to be a part of such a beautiful cooking show, I am still counting my lucky stars. I have learnt so much in such a short period of time and that’s the beauty of food, you never stop learning. It’s safe to say that MasterChef has changed my life around and I couldn’t have asked for more.
6) Which has been your favourite food item?
My favourite food item is probably chilli, it is just so versatile and there is so much you can do with it, in both savoury and desserts.
7) Tell us your favourite recipe.
My favourite recipe is probably Butter Chicken with Naan or rice, this is what comfort food means to me and something I loves coming home to after a long day.
8) How has life changed after entering the MasterChef Australia?
MasterChef Australia has been a life-changing experience in many ways. It made me realise that food is a much bigger dream for me than just a hobby. Also realising that life is too short and if there is anything I want to do, there is never a good time. I got to meet our wonderful judges, guest chefs, the entire team of MasterChef, I made friends for life. I mean if this isn’t life-changing, I don’t know what is. I am now recognised for my food and Indian cuisine not just here in Australia but also in India. I don’t think I could’ve asked for more so thank you MasterChef Australia.
INSTAGRAM : @depinder_
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