‘Mistress of Spices: Faiza Rehman’

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Faiza Rehman, saw her dreams become reality when she was selected to compete in MasterChef Australia, 2013. Her enthusiasm and dedication make her a great chef and at a very young age she has made her own place in the food industry by setting marks in ‘Master Chef Australia’.
Faiza is a young enthusiastic Muslim girl from Pakistan with strong skills in traditional Pakistani cooking and also loves to bake beautiful cakes. She says that the art of preparing beautiful and tasty food is a family legacy.
Growing up, she inherited the cooking skills from her mother and her grandmother. Faiza says that her mother is a perfectionist and feels that she has inherited her mother’s perfectionist tendencies.
She was brought up in Pakistan till the age of nine, and then her family migrated to Australia in hope of better opportunities for their children.
Though she could not make to the top most position in the Master Chef, but this Pakistan based girl has a bigger plan in mind and wants to take the Pakistani/ Indian cooking to a new level in Australia.
In a tête-à-tête with Public Telegraph, Faiza Rehman, master of ‘Desi flavours’ speaks about her experience in Master Chef ..

Tell us something about yourself?

I am a 25 year old law/science graduate who loves food, family and giving back.

I was born in Pakistan and migrated to Australia at the age of 9 with my family. I have adoring parents from very different backgrounds. My father is of a Pathan origin whereas my mother is of an Indian and Pakistani background.

I was 9 years old when I migrated to Australia and after spending most of my life here, Australia is home to me.

When and how you realised your love for cooking?

I have always been very connected to food, it’s always been how I showed people my love for them but only last year I decided to take it seriously and I’m so glad I did.

Who is your cooking idol?

My mother and grandmother are my cooking idols. Whatever I know, I have learnt from them. They have always been my inspiration.

What you like to cook them most?

I love making chicken, and keeps on adding different tastes and flavors to it. Every time I cook, I intend to come up with some different and unique recipe.

Your specialty in cooking?

Indian/Pakistani food is my specialty but I like to experiment with flavors so I would call myself a fusion cook. I also love to cook/eat Middle Eastern food. I love Indian/Pakistani food but my second favorite cuisine is ‘Greek’ food.

What motivated you to participate in Master Chef?

I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and inspire others to do the same.

Share some of your memories associated with the Master Chef competition?

I really admire the moment when I met the judges for the first time. I have loved and admired them so much for so long. Having them at my house, in my kitchen was just incredible.

What was the highlight of the competition for you?

The entire competition was the highlight for me, can’t pick one moment.

What you have to say about your elimination dish?

The elimination day was such a daze for me. I was so nervous and I let my nerves get the better of me. I did overcook the meatballs and I think they were my downfall, sadly.

Who was your favourite contestant?

Christina was my favourite contestant. She is very helpful person, so it was nice to be around her.

What you have learnt from your time in the competition?

The most important thing I learnt was that nothing will happen until you make it happen. Going for your dreams is the best and most rewarding thing you can do for yourself.

Every opportunity which comes in your way should be grabbed and I would definitely say that Master Chef improved my perceptive about food, now I think my knowledge about food and cooking is much better .
I met many contestants, we spent time together and I resulted in some life long bonds of friendship.

How your life has changed after participating in Master Chef?

Life has definitely changed a lot for me after the competition. Now people have started recognising me, it was weird in the beginning but now I am enjoying it.

I have been really busy after leaving the competition. I have done several cooking events for Coles including a VIP dinner in Perth. In addition, I hosted my first charity dinner at Docklands last month raising over $31,000 for Palestinian Children.

What are your future plans?

There is so much I want to do but to sum it up into two words; I would have to say food/media. I want to become a household name with my fusion cooking. In addition, I want to be a role model for young kids who are scared of chasing their dreams.

Besides cooking, what fascinates you the most?

Having a law background, I would say this field fascinates me. I believe in social justice and order so I am very fascinated by all that happens around Australia and the world.

Successful Master Chef audition Recipe by Faiza Rehman

Bouranee Baunjan

Ingredients:
– 2 medium sized eggplants, thinly sliced
– ½ cup vegetable oil.
Tomato chutney
– 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
– 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
– ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
– ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
– ½ teaspoon ground cumin
– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
– 1 teaspoon of roughly grounded mustard seeds.
– 3 medium sized tomatoes, finely diced.
– ½ bunch coriander leaves picked and chopped.
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar
– 2 tablespoon lemon juice.
– Salt to taste
– ¼ cup olive oil
Garnish:
– ½ cup plain yoghurt
– 2 teaspoon dried mint
– salt to taste

Method:
1. Spread the thin eggplant slices on a tray and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 10 mins. This will drain out the bitterness of the eggplant.
2. To prepare the tomato chutney: In a medium sized saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onions until they r translucent and are taking on a bit of colour. Add spices (ground and whole, coriander and cumin seeds, turmeric powder and mustard seeds) to the onion mix and fry until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices.
3. Add the tomatoes to the spice and onion mixture and fry on a medium-low heat until they soften and really breakdown. Add the sugar, lemon juice, coriander leaves and salt to taste. Simmer the tomato chutney until you can see a thin layer of oil separate from the tomato. The chutney is now ready.
4. To prepare the eggplant: Pat the eggplant slices dry and fry them in a saucepan with a few drops of oil until they are slightly golden brown on each side.
5. To prepare the yoghurt garnish: Dilute the plain yoghurt with a tablespoon of water so it is a running consistency and can be drizzled over the eggplant. Season it with salt to taste.
6. To serve: arrange the eggplant in a serving dish (single layer), spoon the tomato chutney on top of the eggplant ensuring that each slice has an adequate amount of chutney. To finish, drizzle with the yoghurt and sprinkle with the dried mint.
7. This dish can be served cold or hot.

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