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MasterChef’s Sashi Cheliah reveals why he returned to the series and shares a special recipe

Glam Adelaide has an exclusive chat with Adelaide’s Sashi Cheliah at his CBD restaurant Gaja by Sashi.

It’s no secret that it’s been a hard couple of years for business owners, particularly those in the hospitality sector and no one was spared from the grip that Covid wrangled upon us, not even celebrity chefs.

Since winning MasterChef back in 2018, Adelaide based Sashi Cheliah has opened a number of pop-up restaurants across both Melbourne and Adelaide before opening his restaurant Gaja by Sashi on Pirie Street in 2019. Right before the world took a sharp turn.

Like so many of us, Sashi’s attention was solely focused on how to keep his business afloat and the passion and creativity he had for cooking took a back seat.

Enter MasterChef 2022. The call to re-join the cast and battle it out for the top gong meant more for Sashi than winning again. It was a chance for him to rediscover himself and his passion.

In an exclusive chat with Glam Adelaide, Sashi explained why he put his reputation on the line by returning to MasterChef for Fans Vs Favourites

“It’s because of the current situation around Covid,” Sashi explained.  “The past two years have been very tough for most of the hospitality industry and I was losing a lot of my creative side as I was focusing on how to sustain the business so that we didn’t close down.

“When MasterChef called me, I was craving something different. I wanted to boost my creativity again.”

Back for its 14th season, MasterChef Fans Vs Favourites sees Sashi teaming up as one of 12 returning stars of the show to take on a group of budding home cooks in a series of competitive cooking events.

And while his lips were sealed on any juicy show details, Sashi did create a recipe, especially for the Glam Adelaide family, that looks impressive but is deceptively easy.

Check out the full interview and cooking rundown here or check out the recipe below.

MasterChef airs on Channel 10 at 7.30pm Sunday – Thursday.

Spiced saltbush Lamb with Pumpkin puree, Labneh and Cherry tomato

Spiced saltbush lamb

500g Lamb backstrap

½ tsp Ground turmeric

1tsp Ground chilli

1tsp Coriander powder

½ tsp cumin powder

1tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

1tbsp olive oil

1tbsp saltbush dust

Method

Marinate the lamb backstrap with turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and oil. Set aside for at least 4hrs to marinate, overnight preferred in the fridge. To cook remove the lamb 30mins prior to cooking to allow the lamb to return to room temperature. Sprinkle a generous amount of saltbush on the lamb. On a pan melt 1tbsp butter and cook the lamb 3mins on each side and allow the lamb to rest for 5mins before cutting.

Pumpkin Puree

500g pumpkin diced

1tbsp olive oil

1tsp salt

1tsp ground pepper

1tsp Sumac

Method

Roast the pumpkin with oil, salt, pepper and sumac in the oven for 30mins at 180 degrees until the pumpkin is soft. Transfer the pumpkin into a food processor and blitz until a smooth puree. Add salt to taste and set aside to serve.

Labneh

250g natural yogurt

1tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

Method

Place the yogurt on a Muslin cloth and allow the excess liquid to drip overnight in the fridge. Add sugar and salt, mix well and set aside until needed.

Cherry tomatoes

100g cherry tomatoes

1tsp sugar

Method

Cut the cherry tomatoes into half and lightly sprinkle sugar. Use a kitchen torch and grill the tomatoes cut side.

Garnish

Fried curry leaves

Spiced oil for the lamb

Salt bush dust

Assemble

Place a large dollop of pumpkin puree on the plate with three slices of lamb on the puree. Arrange the 3 slices of tomatoes around the lamb and add 1 spoonful labneh on the lamb and garnish with fried curry leaves. Dust salt bush over the lamb and drizzle spiced oil around the pumpkin puree.

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