‘MasterChef Australia’ Recap: We Must Protect Precious Spice Angel Sandeep At All Costs

Alright, listen up you jerks. We need to talk about your whole ass attitude toward my beautiful spice boy Sandeep.

MasterChef Australia Season 11

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Alright, listen up you jerks. We need to talk about your whole ass attitude toward my beautiful spice boy Sandeep.

In MasterChef Australia‘s latest Immunity Challenge, Sandeep, Tati, Derek and Larissa competed against each other for the chance to cook for the coveted Immunity Pin.

Tasked with creating a dish to complement their choice of three sauces, Derek and Larissa ran into problems when their beef ribs didn’t cook and bao dough didn’t proof respectively. Fortunately, they managed to whip up quick alternatives that didn’t shame them when presented next to Tati’s prawn rissoles.

It was some good improvisation, and I wouldn’t have turned down any of their dishes if offered. However, despite the delightful crunchiness of Tati’s panko crumbs, all three of their plates paled in comparison to Sandeep’s masala lobster. Magnificently presented in its shell, it looked as though it deserved its own episode of Chef’s Table, the type of food most can only fantasise about sampling.

MasterChef Australia Season 11

The lobster wasn’t just a pretty face, either. Upon tasting it, the judges’ eyes rolled into the back of their heads and they saw the face of God. “There are angels singing somewhere,” declared Gary, while Poh looked as though she would die happy if only she were buried in the dish. “You’ve given us today a lasting memory,” said George. “That is a dish that I won’t forget.

It was art smoked with fenugreek and ghee, served on a bed of salt. The judges didn’t even have to confer with each other to declare the winner of the round. “Sandeep!” yelled George like an enthusiastic rugby fan. “You the man! You the man!”

MasterChef Australia Season 11

Then, unbelievably, Sandeep topped it in his Immunity Pin cook against a Mystery Chef, AKA MasterChef alum and season four winner Andy Allen. Choosing their shared featured ingredient from a table stacked high with citrus, Sandeep confidently selected lemons for his 75 minute cook.

Andy was given only 60 minutes, as he was the professional. He used the time to create a refined plate of confit calamari with adobo and burnt corn salsa, which looked lovely and earned 8/10s across the board (his score was later revealed on MasterChef‘s social accounts).

Meanwhile, Sandeep presented a gorgeous platter of lemon pepper chicken with lemon rice and raita with only minor difficulty. It looked deliciously seasoned and perfectly succulent, and reiterated to me the injustice of my being unable to reach through the television screen.

MasterChef Australia Season 11

Sandeep’s offering looked like the type of dish that would keep you eating even when you’re full. You could practically see the delicious heat and careful blend of spice leaping off it. It was a Sistine Chapel of dishes, and I am probably going to order some Indian tonight.

For his great service to mankind, Sandeep earned 10/10s from all three judges, giving him a score of 30/30 and a well-deserved Immunity Pin. The judges were in raptures, the other contestants were congratulatory and proud, and Sandeep was practically exploding with joy.

Most viewers at home were similarly gleeful. It was lovely to see Sandeep’s hard work and honest, intelligent cooking rewarded. It also helped that he is high key just a ball of sunshine and flavour in human form, and deserves only good things.

However, not everyone partook in the unbridled happiness and positive vibes. Some MasterChef fans took issue with the fact that Sandeep cooked Indian food, expressing disgruntlement at his perceived lack of versatility.

Setting aside that I have never seen anyone complain when white cooks serve up every variation of meat and three veg under the sun, Indian cuisine is incredibly complex. Managing the balance of spices and flavours to make a good dish is no simple task, and the phenomenal food Sandeep has consistently served up demands a lot of skill. It’s very easy to make a terrible curry.

He has also served up a wide variety of dishes throughout MasterChef, each with their own flavour profile. Prawn curry with cumin rice and raita. Koshur thaal. Basil lachha paratha with tomato curry. Lamb yakhni. If you want to say that these are all the same, then I feel sorry for you and your non-existent taste buds.

Sandeep even demonstrated his fine palate and cooking acumen during the Immunity Pin cook. Tasting his lemon rice and finding it too tart, he decided to add some caster sugar, which quickly fixed it. I am far from a chef, but caster sugar would never have even occurred to me. I would probably have tried to dilute it with water, then poked sadly at my soggy rice while my family assured me it was still good.

I would argue that, generally, Indian cooking requires more mastery than Western cuisine. You have to be very incredibly knowledgeable in order to put together so many spices in so many new and delicious ways.

Twitter users have been hitting back at Sandeep’s detractors. Responding to the accusation that all he cooks is curries, some have rightfully pointed out that the term “curry” is a Western invention used to encompass a wide variety of dishes.

Sandeep is a phenomenal cook, and he deserves a beautiful pin to match his beautiful soul. If you’d managed to earn a once-in-a-lifetime place in a national cooking competition that could change the trajectory of your life, you’d serve the foods and flavours that you were most confident in and knew tasted the best.

Further, even if you could cook every dish in the world to perfection, there is little that could hold a candle to a bowl of beautifully spiced Indian food.

Nobody complains that AC/DC only plays rock and roll. Nobody complains that Picasso stuck to cubism. Sandeep is a marvel at cooking Indian food, and it would be a crime to discourage him from it. If anything, he should be cooking more of it. Specifically, for me. I would really like to try that lobster please, Sandeep.

Amanda Yeo is a Sydney-based writer, lawyer and MasterChef enthusiast who still thinks Reynold should have gotten an immunity pin for his 30/30 dessert in season seven. Follow her on Twitter: @amandamyeo.