EVENT The Freedom Refined Sunflower Oil’s The Hindu MetroPlus Cookery Contest 2013 crowned its Cookery Queen amidst a lot of cheer and excitement, writes Vishnupriya Bhandaram

The Met department said the temperatures were averaging 40 degrees in the city on Saturday. Thirty women chose to battle the sweltering heat and chose to toil in the kitchens of the Institute of Hotel Management to win the coveted crown — that of the Freedom Refined Oil’s The Hindu MetroPlus Cookery Contest. In the preliminary rounds, traditional dishes had been presented with a twist at Vijayanagar Colony, innovation was the key at Dilsukhnagar, there was a clear focus on nutrition at Kukatpally, and participants from A. S. Rao Nagar showed talent and enthusiasm. The winning participants from these various rounds of the Contest battled it out under the pressure of time and limited ingredients.

Unlike the previous practice where participants brought food they had cooked at home, this time the thrill of a live and time-bound cooking experience comparable to the likes of Masterchef added to the excitement of the finale.

One step into the premises of the Institute of Hotel Management at DD Colony and an aroma of caramelised onions hit your senses. The craft and degree college kitchen workstations were all occupied by the participants. You could hear a faint buzz — it’s the condiments getting pounded.

First year degree students and craft students hurried in and out of the kitchen, handing them ingredients and chopping their vegetables.

A few women were frying paneer, some were working on their dessert, you could smell the warm melting chocolate and a few were crackling under the pressure and ended up burning their dishes.

One of the participants who cooks for a family of six everyday seemed nervous; perhaps she couldn’t take the pressure of cooking within a time limit. Puneet Mehta, a participant of MasterChef 2 was one of the judges at the event. He walked around and eased the tension for many, “Cooking is an art form, there are no mistakes,” said Puneet.

Pooja Sharma from Sanathnagar made a dry paneer sabzi and Shrikhand with chocolate and orange. “I am excited and scared,” she said.

Shalini Jain who won the Vijayanagar Colony round of the contest prepared ‘Nutra Nine’ — a healthy kathi roll. Sangeetha from Miyapur prepared Andhra Chicken with watermelon and called it, ‘Madhur Milan’.

Well presented

Hasika is a classic meat lover. “I love chicken and fish, especially Apollo fish. Everything here is so well garnished, I want to eat everything,” she said. Unlike Nikhil who is a dessert person, Hasika loves her savouries. “I love food but I eat in moderation,” she added.

Winners

Cookery Queen: Samta Singhee. She prepared baked gardenia using fruits and a capsicum-based dessert.

First Runner Up: Fouzin Nahid

Second Runner Up: Shoba Devi

Sponsors

Contest sponsor: Freedom refined sunflower oil

Refreshment sponsor: Akanksha

Water sponsor: Bisleri

Gift Sponsor: Master weaver,Homoeo Care International ,APHandicrafts Development Corporationltd- Lepakshi and Morning Mist

Silver Coin sponsors: Maa Jewellers

Media Partners: Hindi Milap,The siasat Daily

Radio Partner: Red FM 93.5

Jewel Partner: Durga Jewellers

Event Manager: Anuradha Rao, Citizen Ads

What a foodie

Nikhil of the recent hit Swamy Ra Ra was greeted with lot of cheer by the participants. He confessed to being a foodie and said that he hits all the small joints in Old City to have biryani. “The dishes presented here are lovely, especially the colours,” he said. Nikhil added that he tasted a few dishes but wanted to take the winning dish back home with him. When asked if he had any culinary skills to show off, he quietly nods his head sideways, “I can’t even make a cup of tea. I learnt how to make chicken biryani once and I have forgotten the craft. Wait, I can cook maggi, does it count?” he laughed.

Innovation, taste, eye-appeal

This is the third time that Sudhakumar, Principal of Institute of Hotel Management has judged the contest. “We were looking for a degree of sophistication, even in the regular dishes,” he said. The key was innovation combined with eye appeal.

Judges

Sudhakumar, Principal, Institute of Hotel Management

Puneet Mehta, participant at Master Chef 2

Vivekanand, faculty, Institute of Hotel Management

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