Culinary show MasterChef Australia has featured a fair share of Indian cooks as well as plenty of desi cuisine, both traditional and modern.
As the show enters its eighth season this May, we decided to take a look at some of the best Indian dishes that delighted judges and audiences alike.
This list of must-try dishes also includes a few of judge Gary Mehigan’s recipes—he’s known for his love of Indian cuisine and inability to turn down a good dosa.
Spoiler alert: The show that will air in India on May 9 on Star World also features 'Queen of Spice' Nidhi Mahajan who made it to the top 24, and (literally) curried favour with Marco Pierre White. So much so, that he asked her to come to London and open a restaurant with him.
Here are some amazing recipes (sourced from tenplay.com.au) for any home chef to create a little culinary fun with in their own kitchen. Have a few MasterChef worthy dishes of your own? Write in to us, or leave your comments below.
SOUTH INDIAN CHICKEN CURRY WITH APPAM
80ml (1/3 cup) peanut or grapeseed oil;
1 small chicken (about 1.2kg), jointed into 8 pieces;
2 large onions, thinly sliced;
2 tsps finely chopped garlic;
2 tsps finely chopped ginger;
4-5 tomatoes, skinned, seeds removed, finely chopped;
2 tsps ground turmeric;
1½ tsps red chilli powder;
4 green cardamom pods;
1 tbsp coriander seeds;
1 tbsp cumin seeds;
¼ cup Greek-style yoghurt;
Coriander sprigs, to garnish;
1 tbsp fine semolina;
125ml (½ cup) water;
250ml (1 cup) coconut cream;
½ tsp dried yeast;
150gm (1 cup) rice flour;
2 tbsps white sugar;
½ tsp salt
80ml (1/3 cup) peanut or grape seed oil;
¼ cup curry leaves;
6-8 dried chillies;
6 green cardamom pods
• For the appam, whisk semolina and water in a saucepan to combine. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring regularly for 2-3 minutes until semolina is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly.
• Add coconut cream to pan, sprinkle in yeast, and whisk to combine. Meanwhile, place rice flour and sugar into a bowl and form a well in the centre. Pour in coconut mixture, and whisk vigorously to a smooth batter.
• Cover bowl with a cloth and set aside for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight until the yeast activates and sours the mixture.
• For the curry, heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for about 5 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and set aside. Add onions and cook for about 6 minutes or until golden, scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon. Transfer onions to a small food processor and blend to a paste. Set aside.
• Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for about 20 seconds before adding tomatoes, stirring well to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add turmeric, and chilli powder, and stir to combine.
• Meanwhile, pound cardamom, cloves, coriander and cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle until ground, then add to pan, cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring regularly. Add onion paste and yoghurt, and stir well to combine.
• Add chicken pieces to pan with about 250ml (1 cup) of water, or more to taste. Cover with a lid, and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender, adding more water if necessary, throughout cooking.
• To cook appams, add salt to the batter, whisk to combine. Heat an appam pan or wok over high heat for about 1 minute until very hot.
• Ladle about 60ml (¼ cup) of batter into the centre of the pan, using handles to gently swirl the mixture until there is a thin lacy layer of batter around the pan with a slightly thicker amount in the base of the pan, then reduce heat to low. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the sides of the appam begin to dry and release from the side of the pan. Cover with a lid, and cook gently for 2 minutes until base is just cooked and golden.
• Remove appam from pan, cover with a dry cloth and repeat with remaining batter.
• For the tempered spices, add oil to a frying pan over high heat. Add remaining ingredients, and swirl pan until spices pop and are fragrant. Turn off heat, and carefully tip spice mixture over the curry.
• To serve, divide curry among bowls, garnish with coriander and serve with appam.
ROSE TEA SMOKED CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
Rose smoked tikka masala
4 cloves garlic, peeled
100 gm salted butter
1 whole chicken
juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp salt
1 piece charcoal
½ cinnamon stick
4 dried rosebuds
1 tbsp Darjeeling tea leaves
2 cardamom pods
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 fresh figs, coarsely chopped
2 spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tbsps finely chopped coriander leaves
3 tbsps vegetable oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tbsps tomato paste
pinch of sugar
2 tbsps thickened cream
Madras Spice Mix
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsps hot paprika
250 gm high gluten rice, rinsed 3 times in fresh water
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsps white wine vinegar
1 tbsp orange blossom
½ cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced
¼ tsp brown mustard seeds
2 large bunch fresh coriander, picked
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
10 curry leaves
½ tsp turmeric
¼ cup peanuts
juice of 1 lemon
salt, to taste
• Preheat oven to 200 C. Preheat sous vide machine to 52C.
• For the chicken, wrap the garlic cloves in foil and place in the oven to roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
• To roast the tomato for the sauce, cut the tomato into quarters and place in a bowl. Add garlic, coriander, and 1 tbsp vegetable oil and toss to combine. Transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven to cook for 15 minutes.
• To make the Madras spice mix, place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
• To clarify the butter, place salted butter in a small saucepan and set over low heat to melt. Once melted and solids have risen to the top, skim off any foam with a spoon and then pour through a muslin lined sieve. Discard solids and set clarified butter aside.
• Remove skin from both chicken breasts in one piece and set aside. Remove one chicken breast from chicken. Butterfly the chicken breast and flatten to 1/3 cm thickness by placing between 2 sheets plastic wrap and tapping with a mallet. Set aside.
• Remove garlic and tomato from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 100C.
• Set tomato aside and place garlic in a small bowl. Add salt and lemon juice to garlic and press with the back of a spoon to make a paste.
• Remove top layer of plastic wrap from flattened chicken breast and evenly apply the paste to coat the chicken. Transfer the coated chicken to a plate.
• Set the charcoal over high heat and allow to become really hot, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hot charcoal to a small bowl. Add the half cinnamon stick, rose buds, tea, cardamom pods and 1 tbsp of the clarified butter and immediately place on the plate next to the chicken. Cover with a cloche, making sure the charcoal bowl and chicken are sealed with the smoke inside. Set aside to smoke for 6 to 8 minutes.
• To make the chicken roulade stuffing, place 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a fry pan and set over medium heat. Add the figs and half the reserved Madras Spice Mix and cook until dry, stirring continuously, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
• Transfer the smoked chicken to a board and evenly layer it with spinach leaves and the fig mixture. Roll the chicken into a roulade, wrap in reserved chicken skin and secure using twine. Tightly wrap the roulade in plastic wrap to secure shape and then place into a sous vide bag. Place into sous vide machine and cook for 40 minutes. Remove bag from water and set aside.
• To make the sauce, place the remaining 2 tbsps oil in a fry pan and set over low heat. Add cumin seeds, onion and ginger and cook, stirring, until the onions caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add remaining Madras spice mix, tomato paste and the reserved, roasted tomatoes and continue to cook until the mixture comes together. Add the sugar and cream and mix well. Remove from heat, transfer to a thermomix and blend into a fine sauce. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and set aside.
• Place the rinsed, drained rice and 270 ml water in a saucepan and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer gently until all water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it rest.
• Place the sea salt, white wine vinegar, orange blossom and ginger in a bowl and stir to combine. Strain over the rice and stir to combine. Remove 30 grams rice and set aside the remaining rice, with a wet cloth placed on top to keep it moist.
• To make the rice papadum, roll the 30 grams of rice mixture into a ball with wet hands. Take 2 pieces of baking paper approximately 30cm long and oil generously. Place the rice ball in between pieces of baking paper. Beat the rice with a wooden rolling pin to break the grains. Roll the rice until the rice is really thin and clear. Carefully peel the top paper off and sprinkle with mustard seeds, place paper back on top and roll again to ensure mustard seeds stick. Transfer baking paper and rice to a baking tray and place in the 100C oven to bake until dry, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
• To make the coriander oil, blanch the coriander leaves in boiling water and immediately place them in an ice bath. Strain and squeeze the water from the leaves and place them in a stick blender canister and process until pureed. Gradually add the olive oil, until it is all incorporated. Strain through a muslin-lined sieve, and set aside.
• To make the lemon rice, place the vegetable oil in a fry pan and set over medium heat. Add peanuts and cook until crunchy, about 3 minutes. Add the curry leaves and turmeric and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the reserved, cooked rice and stir until the rice is well coated. Season, remove from heat and set aside.
• Place 2 tbsps clarified butter in a fry pan and set over medium heat. Remove the chicken roulade from the sous vide bag and place in the frypan to cook until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from frypan and allow to rest.
• To serve, spread some sauce on a plate. Remove string from the chicken roulade, slice in half and then one half in half again. Place chicken slices on the sauce. Peel the rice papadum off baking paper and add to the plate. Toss pomegranate seeds in a little of the coriander oil and add to plate. Drizzle with coriander oil and garnish with micro coriander. Serve with lemon rice on the side.
BUTTER QUAIL WITH BUTTER NAAN
2 cups plain flour
½ cup yoghurt
Salt, to taste
3 tsps cumin seeds
3 tsps coriander seeds
6 garlic cloves
1cm piece ginger
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 lemon, juiced
1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup cashews, roasted
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cayenne
60ml (¼ cup) thickened cream
Caster sugar, to taste
Vegetable oil, to drizzle
• To make naan dough, place flour, yoghurt, pinch of salt and 60ml (¼ cup) water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, and mix to form a dough. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside until needed.
• Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add cumin and coriander seeds and heat for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Grind seeds in a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder.
• Place 4 of the garlic cloves, ginger, chilli flakes, lemon juice, and 1 tbsp each ground cumin and coriander in a blender, and puree to a paste.
• Debone quail and separate legs from breasts.
• Rub 1 tbsp of the paste onto the quail and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.
• Melt 125gm of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add remaining ginger and garlic paste, and cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add onion, and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes, and cook for about 5 minutes until broken down.
• Transfer mixture to a blender with cashews, remaining ground cumin and coriander, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne and saffron, and blend to a puree.
• Melt 50gm of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add puree and simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened.
• Strain puree through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Place over medium heat, slowly stir in 50gm of the butter and cream, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Season to taste with salt and sugar. If sauce separates, whisk in 1-2 tbsps water until combined.
• Place a chargrill pan over high heat. Drizzle quail with oil. Cook for about 1-2 minutes each side until cooked to medium. Remove quail, cover loosely with foil, and set aside to rest 5 minutes.
• Meanwhile, to make naan, divide dough into 4 evenly-sized balls. Roll each ball into a 2mm-thick disc. Melt remaining 25gm butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Cook naan bread for about 2 minutes each side until puffed and golden.
• To serve, place sauce onto plates, top with quail and serve with butter naan.
2 tsps cumin seeds
2 tsps coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
180ml (2/3 cup) white wine
400gm can diced tomatoes
2 tsps salt
2 tsps caster sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1kg mussels, debearded and cleaned
1 small bunch English spinach, trimmed, washed, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zest finely grated
• Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Toast cumin, coriander and fennel seeds for 2 minutes until fragrant. Pound in a mortar and pestle until finely ground.
• Process onion, garlic and chilli in a food processor to a paste.
• Place oil in a frying pan set over low heat. Cook paste for about 5 minutes until onion has softened, stirring regularly. Add spice mixture and turmeric, and cook for a further 2 minutes or until fragrant.
• Add white wine, cook for 1 minute, then add tomatoes. Add salt, sugar and vinegar, and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.
• Add mussels, stir to combine, and cover with a lid. Cook for about 2 minutes or until shells open. Remove from heat.
• Stir in spinach and lemon zest to combine.
• To serve, divide mussels between bowls.
DOSA MASALA AND POTATO BHAJI
1 cup raw short grain rice
1 cup cooked short grain rice
1 cup urad dal
¼ cup chana dal
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
60ml oil for cooking
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp mustard oil
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tbsp chana dal
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 large red onion finely sliced
2 green chillies, chopped
10 curry leaves
½ tsp salt
3 medium potatoes diced and boiled
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
½ cup of water
2 tbsp chopped coriander
½ lime wedge
½ cup roasted chana dal
1 tbsp crushed ajwain seeds
8 cloves garlic
5-6 ling red chillies
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
• Place both the cooked and raw rice and dals into a medium sized bowl and rinse a few times under running water. Add the fenugreek seeds and cover with water.
• Cover with cling wrap or a cloth and leave to ferment at room temperature for 5 hours or overnight.
• Drain most of the liquid but reserve to one side. Blend the rice and dal into a batter, adding a little of the soaking liquid if required to loosen. The batter should be the consistency of double cream.
• Cover and ferment for a further 8 hours until bubbly and light. Add salt and mix again. Set aside.
• Heat the oils in a medium sized pan and add the mustard seeds. They will begin to sizzle and pop, add the chana dal and toast until golden. Add the asafoetida, the sliced onions, green chillies, curry leaves and pinch of salt and cook until light golden.
• Add the cooked diced potatoes, turmeric, a pinch of salt and ½ cup of water. Stir to combine, lower the heat and cook for a further 3-4 minutes to allow the heat to draw through the potatoes and for the flavours to combine. Set aside.
• To make and assemble the dosa: Heat the dosa pan over a low heat and pour a ladle of batter into the centre of the pan. Starting from the middle spread the batter out in concentric circles towards the outside to form a thin pancake.
• Don’t try to retrace the lines. Drizzle a little oil around and over the dosa and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp. Place a spoonful or two of the potato bhaji into the centre of the dosa and carefully roll into a large tube ensuring the potato remains in the centre of the dosa.
• Serve the dosa warm with a little bowl of red chutney (optional) fresh lime wedges and fresh chopped coriander.
Combine ingredients in a spice grinder and blend
Tip from Gary Mehigan: Dosas…are irresistible but not easy to perfect. I found one of the keys was finding a large thin iron pan that I seasoned within an inch of it life so it was shiny and non-stick. That way when the dosa is peeled off the bottom of the pan it’s perfectly crisp and glossy.
Vegetable Curry With Curry Leaves
70 ml mustard oil
1 onion peeled & sliced
1 carrot, cut into chunks
½ daikon radish cut into chunks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 knob ginger
4 cloves garlic
4 small green chilli whole
3 ripe tomatoes, quartered seeds removed
150 ml water
1 cup non-dairy yoghurt
2 tbsp cashew paste
1 handful green beans picked
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
1/3 cup green peas
1 lime cut into quarters for serving
3 tbsp mustard oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
4 dried red chillies
12 curry leaves
½ tsp fennel seed
1 cup basmati rice
200ml vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
pinch cumin seeds
2 cups water
Pinch saffron threads
2 tbsp pistachios
1 tbsp cashews
2 tbsp sultanas
1 tbsp ghee
½ tsp cumin seeds toasted
½ tsp coriander seeds toasted
4 tbsp tamarind liquid
2 tbsp mustard oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 ripe tomatoes
1 small cucumber, peeled seeds removed
½ Spanish onion
1 small green chilli, chopped
¼ bunch coriander leaves
2 tbsp cashews toasted
2 tbsp watermelon seeds toasted
Vegetable Curry With Curry Leaves
• Heat a medium sized pot over a moderate heat and add the mustard oil. Scatter in the onions and cook slowly until they soften and sweeten and become golden in colour.
• Add the carrot, radish, salt and dry spices and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing all the flavours to combine and the vegetables to soften slightly. Blend the ginger and garlic into a smooth paste with a little water and add to the onions and stir.
• Add the chopped tomatoes and water, non-dairy creamer and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are just cooked. Add the cashew paste and stir to combine, add the green beans and zucchini and cook for a further 4 minutes or until just cooked.
• Add the fresh peas and remove the curry from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the remaining mustard oil in a small frying pan over a moderate heat and add the tempering spices and cashews. Pop the spices, stir once or twice and tip over the curry. Serve with lime wedges.
• Soak the rice for 25 mins and then rinse well until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
• Meanwhile, pour the oil into a deep-sided pan and place over a high heat. Heat to 170C and scatter in the finely sliced onion, fry carefully stirring occasionally until they are golden brown, remove onto paper towel and set aside. Repeat for the garlic slices and set aside.
• Remove all but 2 tbsp of the oil and add the spices, cook for 30 seconds until they pop and release their aroma, add the rice and stir. Cook for another minute stirring occasionally. Add the water and then the saffron and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, stir and cover with a lid.
• Reduce to a moderate heat and cook gently until the water has evaporated and there are pencil-sized holes in the top of the rice. Give the rice a final stir. Sprinkle over the nuts and sultanas, pop the lid back on and turn off the heat. Leave for 15 minutes. Lift the lid, add the ghee and give the rice a final stir and sprinkle on the crispy onions and garlic. Serve.
• Grind the toasted spices and place into a small pot, add the tamarind and sugar and warm to dissolve.
• Stir in the mustard oil and season with a little salt.
• Chop the tomatoes, cucumber and onion into equal sized pieces, toss together with a little of the dressing.
• Add the chilli, coriander leaves, cashews and watermelon seeds to finish.
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