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Saliha Crowned MasterChef Champion 2017


Credit: BBC

Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed produced three “divine” plates of “East meets West” food to become this year’s MasterChef winner.

Adopting a “structured approach” for the competition’s final three-hour marathon cook-off, the junior doctor from Watford methodically worked through an intricate cooking plan to pass what she called her “biggest test”.

Presenting Gregg Wallace and John Torode with a Venison shami kebab starter, Kashmiri style sous-vide duck breast main, and a Saffron rosewater and cardamom pannacotta dessert, Saliha produced a three-course meal which Wallace dubbed a “MasterChef magical mystery tour”.

The two iconic judges were left dumbfounded by her extraordinary ability at fusion cooking with Wallace simply remarking: “Wow! Wow!”

While negative comments followed the efforts of the two runners-up, Giovanna Ryan and Steve Kielty, Saliha’s drew only praise and admiration.

Visibly gaining in confidence during the seven week competition, Wallace said: “She’s been growing slowly throughout the finals and it’s culminated into her best three dishes throughout this competition.”

Starter – Venison Shami kebab with cashew and coriander green chutney, channa lentils and a kachumber salad (credit: BBC)

Inspired by the memories of her grandmother’s version in Pakistan, Saliha’s Venison Shami kebab was a visual spectacle.

Not only did Torode declare his absolute love for it, but the same level of adoration was reserved for her sous-vide duck breast main.

Main – Sous-vide duck breast with crispy duck skin, friquet wheat grain spiced with dried barberries, walnuts and coriander, a cherry chutney and a duck and cherry sauce (credit: BBC)

“I love it! Honestly, I love it,” he said, and added: “And I’ll tell you what I love about it – it’s this extraordinary mixture of flavours.”

“I’m really, really blown away by this. I think it’s delicious.”

But it was her “thought-provoking” dessert of Saffron rosewater and cardamom pannacotta with deconstructed Baklwava that really left them reeling.

Dessert – Saffron rosewater and cardamom pannacotta with deconstructed Baklwava including honeycomb, candied pistachios, filo pastry shards and kumquats (credit: BBC)

A clearly surprised Wallace could only begin with “how extraordinary” before concluding: “I’m in love with that dessert.”

And when her name was announced as champion, an astonished Saliha leapt up in the air, pirouetted in delight and left Torode in tears of happiness.

“I feel amazing right now. I can’t actually believe this is true. Yeah, I’m so happy that my cheekbones are hurting right now,” the giddy mother-of-one beamed.

“Being MasterChef champion is fantastic, wonderful. Adjectives are not sufficient.”

While Giovanna and Steve acknowledged that the “best cook won”, Torode summed up: “Saliha is a class-act. She’s walked in here and taken her food culture apart and put it back together in a modern and exciting way,” and Wallace said: “It’s East-meets-West and it’s stunningly good.”

Congratulations Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed – BBC MasterChef Champion 2017.

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