Sashi Cheliah On Peranakan Cuisine And It’s India Connect
Image Credit: Masterchef Sashi Cheliah

MasterChef Australia winner Sashi Cheliah is known for his love and passion to play with bold flavours. Sashi's passion for Indian food is nothing new; he hails from a lineage of Indian expats who enjoyed home cooking and proudly guard his family's traditional traditions. As a result, family meals while growing up in Singapore served as lessons in appreciating Indian cuisine. His weekends at home would mostly be around organized to cook the family meals. Sashi grew up in a traditional Indian family with numerous aunts ambling in and out of the kitchen.

Hailing all the way from Australia, Chef Sashi Cheliah brings his unrivaled culinary expertise to Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel, by joining hands with the culinary maestro Executive Chef JP Singh. Together, they curated an unforgettable dining experience, showcasing their creative fusion of flavors and the best of Modern Peranakan (Singaporean & Malaysian) cuisine at Inazia restaurant. Each dish is specially crafted that embarks Chef Sashi's unique culinary philosophy. Meticulously sourced finest-quality ingredients with vibrant Asian influences to create an unparalleled feast for the senses, leaving an indelible mark on your culinary journey.

In a quick chat with HTSlurrp he talks about his passion and love for flavours

What made you foray into the kitchen? And what have been your worst experiments?

A: My journey into the kitchen was inspired by my family, particularly my mother, who always encouraged us to explore new culinary adventures. Her passion for cooking sparked my interest and led me to discover my own love for experimenting in the kitchen. However, not all of my experiments have been successful.

One of my worst experiments was when I attempted to create a deconstructed version of a classic dessert called Payasaam, a traditional Indian sweet pudding made with rice, milk, and sugar. Unfortunately, my attempt did not turn out as I had imagined. The flavours and textures didn't blend well, and the dish lacked the harmonious essence of the original. It taught me a valuable lesson that sometimes it's best not to tamper with beloved classics.

How has your journey in and out of MasterChef Australia shaped you as a chef?

A: Participating in MasterChef Australia has shaped me as a chef through exposure to amazing chefs, diverse cuisines, and new ideas. Meeting fellow contestants and industry professionals expanded my culinary knowledge and creative repertoire. Overall, the experience has provided a solid foundation for my culinary career and instilled in me a deep passion for cooking.

You have travelled well because of your profession; how do you see Indian food being perceived across the globe?

The perception of Indian food across the globe is changing significantly. Talented Indian chefs are venturing abroad, showcasing diverse regional cuisines and experimenting with innovative techniques. This shift has led to a greater appreciation for the depth and complexity of Indian flavors. Indian cuisine's vast diversity, with its unique regional dishes, is being recognized and celebrated. As a result, the popularity and appreciation of Indian food are growing globally.

You have developed a cult following in India and how does that make you feel?

I am delighted and honored to have a huge following in India. Connecting with my roots and engaging with the passionate community here brings me immense joy. Their support inspires me to create unique experiences for them.

What do you like about the Indian food scene and what is your biggest takeaway from it?

I appreciate the incredible diversity of the Indian food scene, with each region offering its own distinct flavours and traditional dishes. It's fascinating to experience the multitude of culinary options available within a short distance. Indian cuisine showcases a remarkable ability to create delicious meals using both abundant and limited ingredients, making it a truly unique and flavorful experience.

Tell us about your menu that has been designed for Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel 

A: Our thoughtfully curated menu at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel, combines locally sourced Bangalore ingredients with authentic flavours from our renowned Pandan Club kitchen. Most of our ingredients are sourced from Malaysia and Singapore, ensuring a fusion of vibrant flavors. 

Will it see your special Peranakan cuisine influence on the table?

A: Certainly! I'm here to bring the authentic flavours of Peranakan cuisine to Bangalore, sharing the unique blend of Singaporean & Malaysian cuisine with my fellow Bangaloreans. 

What are the similarities between Indian and Peranakan cuisines?

A: Indian and Peranakan cuisines share similarities in terms of their use of spices, including chili and coconut milk. Both cuisines have similar taste profiles and employ similar cooking methods like stir-frying and simmering. They also commonly use ingredients like lemongrass and galangal. However, it's important to note that they also have distinct characteristics and regional variations.

What is that one dish that you are most proud of creating and cooking till date?

I take great pride in my creation of Litchi Duck, a delightful and savory dish

What is your idea of comfort food at home?

 A comforting home-cooked meal: Sambar, stir-fried veggies, and rice