BBC Masterchef finalist Saliha wows food critics

Credit: BBC

Masterchef amateur cook Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed mesmerised a quartet of leading food critics to win her place in the final week of the BBC’s premier cooking show yesterday.

Drawing literal ‘mmms’ from restaurant critics – Amol Rajan, Tracey MacLeod, Jay Rayner and William Sitwell – Saliha further cemented her position as one of the favourites to win this year’s coveted prize.

Her semi-final dish – Rose Scented Chicken with Rose and Raisin Chutney, Jewel Saffron Rice and Aromatic Chicken Shorba – even had hard-nosed Sitwell confessing: “This is one of the loveliest things I’ve ever eaten on this show. It’s just mouthful after mouthful of just pure joy.”

Up till now the hospital doctor, who’s training to specialise in gastroenterology, has wowed Masterchef presenters, John Torode and Gregg Wallace, throughout the competition with her innovative Kashmiri and fusion cuisine.

In an earlier round, a dish inspired by Saliha’s grandma went so far as to remind Torode of his own grandmother’s roast chicken.

Rose Scented Chicken with Rose and Raisin Chutney, Jewel Saffron Rice and Aromatic Chicken Shorba

She also shone during her first taste of professional cooking at award-winning chef Shaun Rankin’s London restaurant Ormer Mayfair, where her Turbot dish drew praise from both chef and Wallace.

Hailing from a large Pakistani family, Saliha began cooking when she was just 12 years old, and praises her mother as being an amazing cook.

When she was 15, Saliha won the ‘School Chef of the Year’ award after her Food Tech teacher entered her into the competition.

While she intends to continue her work as a doctor, her aim is to publish cookery books that will encourage the nation towards healthier eating.

You can watch her progress this Monday on BBC1 at 21:00 where she and the remaining four contestants will travel to Winfield House, the official residence of the American ambassador to the UK.

There they will be cooking for him and his five guests, under the supervision of Michelin-starred chef Paul Ainsworth, before heading back to the MasterChef kitchen for a cook off into the final four.

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