MasterChef Australia 2017 winner Diana Chan curates a special menu for JW Marriott
The menu includes her mother's Tamarind Fish recipe
MasterChef Australia 2017 winner Diana Chang wooed the judges and the audience with her unique approach to the art of cooking, and her delectable dishes that were among the most tasted on the show. Now, Diana has teamed up with Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels, Marriott International’s delivery program. The chef has curated a special menu featuring five dishes that will be part of the Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels menu at the JW Marriott hotels in India. This is a limited edition menu that can be ordered when dining in or for delivery. As a precursor to the promotion, Diana hosted a virtual master class and participants cooked along with her. In an interview with Indulge, she tells us more about the menu and her favourite Indian dishes. Excerpts:
Tell us about your association with JW Marriott. What made you come onboard?
I have collaborated with Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels to specially curate a menu that will be available for three months. Anyone in India can order from any JW Marriott Hotels. I have worked with the Marriott Group before and I love their professionalism and attention to detail so it wasn't hard to convince me to partner with them.
What was the brief given to you for the new menu? What went into planning it? What parameters did you have to consider keeping in mind the Indian palate?
The brief was to curate a delicious and accessible menu that caters to different palates. Everything was considered, especially vegetarian options as I know most of India is vegetarian. There was a full kitchen handover between myself and the chefs at all the outlets. This was all done virtually using Zoom, over a few sessions. Lots of pre-planning and detailed recipes had to be provided and tested beforehand. In terms of the Indian palate, I think most Indians are familiar or would like the South East Asian flavours used throughout the menu which is similar to Indian food in general.
What Indian ingredients are an integral part of the new menu? Which are your personal favourite dishes from the menu and why? Are there any stories or anecdotes behind these dishes?
The tamarind fish or tofu option has lots of spices. Also, I believe tamarind and okra are both commonly used in India. I'd like to be biased and say my personal favourite dish from the menu is my Tamarind Fish as it is my mother's recipe which I learnt from her and it doesn't get more original than that I guess. Baba Nyonya (or Peranakan) is a subculture in Malaysia. The Chinese traders who travelled to Malaysia married the local Malays and created this subculture called Baba Nyonyas (or Peranakans). With them, they brought a marriage of different cultures and a whole new cuisine. I chose to showcase it on my menu as it is not only a dying culture but I want to share the flavours I love.
How familiar are you with Indian cuisine?
Growing up in Malaysia has taught me plenty about Indian food. There were a lot of Indian migrants that came to Malaysia back in the day so we are fortunate to have access to Indian food. In terms of ingredients, coming from similar landscapes, I think I am quite familiar with the ingredients although India is vast and has many different regions which have variations of the dishes as well. There's so much more to explore in Indian cuisine.
What are your fondest memories of MasterChef Australia?
The fondest memories for me have to be the lifelong friendships I've made during the entire season. I've also had some amazing experiences and visited some pretty cool destinations as well as met some great chefs from around the world. I will forever cherish those memories.
What do you want diners to take away from your menu?
I want them to have a taste of my Malaysian heritage through the dishes. Each item on the menu represents some of the different cultures we have in Malaysia - Chinese, Malay and Peranakan.
Which are your favourite Indian dishes and ingredients? Why are these your favourite?
Dosa, chapatis, vada, mutton curry, dals, biryani... the list goes on. I am a big fan of Indian food. The main thing I love is the roti as it is the best in India.
What are you working on next? What's in the pipeline?
I'm working on several projects at the moment including a restaurant in the pipeline, an extension of my frozen foods range as well as my homeware range which I'm yet to launch.