Into the frying panhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/into-the-frying-pan/

Into the frying pan

If you’ve watched MasterChef Australia,the format of MasterChef India should be familiar to you. People with a passion for cooking — students,homemakers,businessmen,executives and others...

MasterChef India

Star Plus,Saturday and Sunday,9 pm,HHH

What’s it about?

If you’ve watched MasterChef Australia,the format of MasterChef India should be familiar to you. People with a passion for cooking — students,homemakers,businessmen,executives and others — compete to be crowned India’s Masterchef. Weighing the merits of these eager hopefuls,as they dish out delicacies like Hariyali Ghosht and Sevaiyya,are three judges,Akshay Kumar,Kunal Kapoor and Ajay Chopra.

Each episode sees cooking challenges being posed before the contestants — whether it is replicating a dish cooked by one of the judges or getting the basics of cooking right. One interesting challenge saw the contestants struggling to perfectly dice onions at top speed. A lot of the challenges are similar to what we’ve seen in international editions of MasterChef,such as the Invention Tests where the contestants have to invent something using set ingredients or the Taste Test where the contestants have to figure out all the ingredients of a particular dish,simply by tasting it. Eliminations are a regular feature — those who don’t make the cut are out. The kitchen is a fairly brutal place.

Who’s in it?

The credentials of all three judges seem impeccable with two of them being professional chefs — Kapoor is chef de cuisine of Diya,Leela Kempinski,Delhi,while Chopra is the executive chef at the Goa Marriott Resort. The star judge Kumar is a self-confessed foodie who cooked at a food stall in Bangkok,before his acting career took off — he even prepares his signature Khiladi Sizzler to prove it.

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This is the first time that India has seen a show where cooking is being taken out of it’s gender ghetto and being presented as something that anyone and everyone,man or woman,can and should be passionate about. The tasks are fairly interesting — they’re varied and challenging enough without being too obscure or difficult for the viewers to understand. Also there is focus on all kinds of Indian cuisine — vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

What’s not?

Unfortunately,the focus of MasterChef India seems to be less on the food,more on the drama. A lot of time is wasted on silly stunts — one episode saw Kumar making his entry by clinging onto the side of a truck. Such tactics should have no place on a show that is about food and the drama that food generates. Also,while it is interesting to know more about the backgrounds of the contestants,the tendency to turn each individual’s life into a sob story is annoying. The viewers understand that this is a big deal for many people on the show — one contestant hopes to get his life on track after he lost his restaurant,while another hopes to make her husband proud of her. Everyone identifies with these emotions and there’s no need to rub them in.

One especially frustrating part was where the judges were eliminating people in the first episode. There were no explanations given as to why someone made the cut or didn’t.

Should you be watching it?

The production does not match the standards set by international MasterChefs. But it is a brave attempt and hopefully,will foster a greater interest in food culture in a country that loves to eat,but is rarely curious about the fine art of cooking.