• 30 Jun - 06 Jul, 2018
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

I brought my humble plate to the judges and looked at their faces for approval. They looked at my dish and back to me with somewhat suspicious benevolence.

“So what have you made for us today?” asked Gary.

“This is chicken karahi. An amalgamation of spices and gravy made from onions and tomatoes with chicken being the prime ingredient. It’s generally had with flat bread which I’ve also made for you.”

“And why did you make this particular dish?” Matt made this sound more like an inquisition.

“If it’s Wednesday night at my home, mid of a busy week; I would like to cook something that is both nourishing and wholesome yet easy to make in the least amount of time. The dish is a favourite among the kids too. So, this would definitely be the dish of my choice.”

“Let’s tuck in then!” I could see that George liked the appetizing aroma and the sight of this healthy platter.

The judges took not one but several mouthfuls, a little ineptly managing the flat bread with the thick gravy but I could see that they were enjoying themselves. Thank God I had managed the spice threshold. They were practically licking their fingers.

“The balance of spices and the acidity is perfect. An irresistible blend of flavours exploding in our mouths with every mouthful and morsel. Prepared to perfection!” Matt boomed over my creation. He made me feel extremely proud. I no longer doubted my pick of the dish.

The judges made a note on their score sheets.

I was now leading the game with the highest score on the board.

Now time for Round three!

We were given a quick refreshment break where we got to sit down and have a few bites from the refreshment tables out for the team.

I let myself relax a little but I couldn’t let my guard down yet. I began to make mental notes of what could be under those covers at the two tables. I began to calculate what I could make now. We would get two hours and we were expected to do a three course meal.

The director told us to be up and ready for line up.

I felt exhausted. The pressure was getting on to me now. Only the final lap is left. I needed to dig deep for the next few remaining hours.

“How does it feel? You are the lucky ones. Don’t forget it.” Gary was always so encouraging.

“We shall reveal the contents of those two tables now. You will get two hours to prepare a three course meal. This is a blind tasting. As you can see Matt and Gary have left and taken up their places at the dining Hall. They will await your dishes and judge them accordingly. After which we will add up your scores then announce the winner for Masterchef Australia 2018!”

The contents of the table were revealed finally.

One of the tables had all kinds of herbs, spices, roots and basic vegetables.

The other table had a variety of proteins from meat, poultry and fish to all kinds of seafood. The tray of staples included flour, milk, sugar, eggs, cheeses of different kinds and butter.

“Alright people, are you ready now?”

Three course meal. Tough challenge.

I had made up my mind.

I was going to prepare finger fish with tartar sauce for the first course. For the main course I was going to make kunna, a stew using mutton and for dessert I was making an upside down apple pie using a basic sponge recipe instead of puff pastry.

I got started on all three dishes by marinating my fish first and then putting my mutton to cook as soon as possible. While the fish was resting in its marinade to be fried just before serving I made my tartar sauce and prepared my garnishes. Then begin to work on my apple pie.

I was feeling very confident. I knew I could do this. And I was very hopeful.

The next two hours were a buzz. The only thing I remember is that I managed to get my dishes done on time.

When the waiters carried off our dishes to be presented to the judges, I began to reminisce about the entire competition and how I found myself here today.

I had come to Australia on a student visa. After my studies were completed, I found a cushy job and began sending money back home. I think I was on the road to a successful career when I found a chance to participate in Masterchef. I filled up the form on a fluke. When I was accepted, I immediately informed my mom. At first she was upset. The typical stereotypical beliefs but then she told me that my happiness is all that mattered and I should follow my dream.

“Worst case scenario, you might win and become filthy rich and successful, all in one bang.”

Expect my mom to make such a huge accomplishment like winning the Masterchef trophy as a “worst case scenario” situation.

With these thoughts in mind, we were made to head into the main hall.

Gary and Matt had joined George. At the balcony all the contestants were lined up to cheer for us.

And then suddenly something wonderful happened. The great, huge entrance doors opened and our families were ushered in.

My mom! I ran forward to wrap her in a tight embrace.

I could see she had tears in her eyes and I found myself weeping like a baby. This was the moment that I had been waiting for. No more tears mama, I’ll make it alright for you!

“It’s time to total your scores. Hamza we loved your three course meal. It represented who you are with a good combination of east and west. It was wholesome and yet fancy enough for any French cuisine restaurant in the world.” Matt did not hold back the praise. I was happy mom was here with me.

I didn’t even hear the rest. I barely saw the score board. I think I went into a daze.

My eyes burst open when my name was called out as the Masterchef winner of the year 2018.

Cheering, graffiti falling, the trophy in my hands, my mom embracing me.

It was a dream come true!

A long journey to a golden end. Mom’s hug and kisses, the judges cheering for us. It was a wonderful day. •