Saransh Goila talks about his experience as the celebrity judge on MasterChef Australia
His butter chicken recipe became the talk of the culinary world when renowned Australian chef, George Calombaris, labelled it as the ‘best butter chicken in the world,’ when he sampled it in 2017. A few weeks ago, the same recipe was featured on the new season of MasterChef Australia (yet to start airing in India), when Chef Saransh Goila was invited as the celebrity guest judge for one of the elimination rounds on the show.
From the trailer of the show, you can see how the three contestants look flabbergasted when they see the gravy and are told that they will have to recreate Saransh's butter chicken exactly the same way as he does. Goila Butter Chicken as it is popularly known is famous for its complex flavours and the hint of smokiness. But interestingly, even before the contestants could try cooking, Saransh had to cook the dish before the elimination round. "I had to try it in the MasterChef test kitchen three times. All the chefs who comes as celebrity judges have to go through this process. I had to follow the recipe that I had shared with them, and someone else also cooks it and we look at how much time it takes and how difficult it is to execute. It needs to taste exactly the same every time we make it," explains Saransh.
Of the three contestants who cooked the butter chicken, Saransh says, one of the contestants dish came very close to his. "I wasn't expecting any of them to come this close after I saw their expressions and the way they were cooking," recollects Saransh. The contestants also had to make roomali roti. "Hundreds of people make it so easily in our country but from an outsider's point of view, I realised, how tough it is to make. It is an acquired skill and even to make the dough you need to be a perfectionist. It was fascinating to see them all trying to get the roomali roti right," he says.
The first step
The chef who is now renowned for his signature Butter Chicken dish, tells us how his journey began when he was still a child. An avid fan of Sanjeev Kapoor’s cookery shows on television, Saransh says, “I started watching the show because my grandfather used to watch it and would try cooking the dishes at home. I would follow him into the kitchen to help. My mother would also encourage me. Nobody at home discouraged me. No one said I couldn’t cook because I’m a boy. That’s how it all began.”
Another interesting aspect of Saransh’s journey as a chef is how he got his first break. Saransh had a keen interest to migrate to the US. But his visa was rejected and that’s when he was called to be a contestant on the Food Food Maha Challenge hosted by Sanjeev Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit. Saransh went on to win the reality TV contest.
“I think it was a blessing in disguise. I never believed in destiny, but now I do. Today, cooking is cathartic for me,” he says. While Saransh is still basking in the limelight of representing India on one of the best cooking shows in the world, he stresses on the fact that Indian cuisine will take time to make an impact globally. “The perception of Indian cuisine is that it is only curries that are heavy and greasy. This is an uncool image of our cuisine. It is also our fault because nobody took the onus to try and change that,” says Saransh.
Even though cooking is his first love, those who follow Saransh on social media will know that running is his other passion. His hashtag #runtoeat is one of the most used on Twitter and Instagram not just by the chef but also by his followers. “I can’t give up my eating habits. My job is to taste food, travel and try new cuisines.The only way to balance this out is by eating in the right quantity and running. So I run to eat,” he concludes.