From 'MasterChef Australia' To Butter Chicken Wars, Gary Mehigan's India Deep Dive - Eastern Mirror
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From ‘MasterChef Australia’ to butter chicken wars, Gary Mehigan’s India deep dive

By IANS Updated: Mar 30, 2024 6:24 pm
MasterChef Australia
Photo: IANS

NEW DELHI — Gary Mehigan, who was behind the humongous success of ‘MasterChef Australia’, has become a registered Indophile by the look of it.

Somewhat like the Australian (and also Delhi Capitals) cricket star David Warner, who almost became the face of Tollywood during his stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mehigan knows more about India than any homegrown desi would on a good day.

Not surprising, considering that he has been here 12 times in 18 months, travelling across the country from the highlands of Munnar in Kerala to Ladakh, soaking in the Hemis Festival, to Nagaland, chilling at Hornbill. Sampling ‘langarwali dal’ and roti at Anandpur Sahib one day or, on another, riding a truck in Kolkata carrying an idol of Goddess Durga being taken for immersion to the Hooghly, shooting for Nat Geo’s ‘India Mega Festivals’ series.

And of course, if you’re a chef who spends more time in India than back home in Melbourne, how can you not get interested in the butter chicken controversy that has pitted one of the Moti Mahal owners against the duo behind Daryaganj?

When Mehigan conducted a poll among his Instagram followers about their favourite butter chicken, Moti Mahal was trailing behind Daryaganj by 7 percentage points, and he also got advice on the other butter chicken offerings he must check out before arriving at any conclusion, notably Havemore, Minar, Mughal Mahal, Kwality, and even Aslam’s.

Mehigan, however, is at the Taj City Centre in Gurugram, along with a team from his Indian collaborators, the Bengaluru-based multi-vertical food platform, Conosh, and several cases containing the single malt, The Ardmore, for an event far removed from the world that his travels take him to. As he puts it, he keeps moving from “the pavement to the penthouse”.

The dinner that Mehigan will lay out on Sunday will consist of seven courses, preceded by a “snack attack”, which will consist of dishes, each with his personal touches, representing the best of Japanese, French, Italian, and of course, Australian classics.

No Iftar delicacies here, which he sampled in Hyderabad and Delhi, but definitely a platter of nigiri or a duck confit, and even the flavours of Alphonso. So, what would the pairing of The Ardmore and the Alphonso be called? The Alphmore? Mehigan broke into a hearty laugh. MoreAlph, maybe!

Being originally an Englishman, Mehigan loves his Single Malts, and he says they pair very well with food, contrary to the popular belief that they are best imbibed before and after a meal.

Although The Ardmore, which comes from the Highlands, is slightly peaty, Mehigan pointed out that it has clear notes of cinnamon, honey and toffee. The flavour profile makes it just right for cocktails, or, better still, to be paired neat with a duck or a lamb shank. Mehigan’s take: “That’s not a difficult one to pair. It has lots of flavours for us to play around with.”

Coming back to his love for India, Mehigan said he’s curating “food travel experiences” for just 60 world travellers along with his MasterChef Australia co-host Matt Preston and the international upper-crust travel company, Luxury Escapes. The India tours sold out in 12 hours.

And while he’s doing all this, and maybe wondering which one is truly Delhi’s best butter chicken, he’s soaking up more of India by reading up Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’, Rohinton Mistry’s ‘A Fine Balance’ and Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Inheritance of Loss’. Did anyone say chefs only read recipes and KOTs?

By IANS Updated: Mar 30, 2024 6:24:15 pm
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