Gary Mehigan On What Brings Him Back To India Repeatedly & His Growing Love For Indian Food

Gary Mehigan

ICYMI, ex-Masterchef Australia judge Gary Mehigan was in India yet again. If you’ve been following the chef on Instagram, you’d know he’s visited our country multiple times simply for the sheer love he has for its vibrant and diverse food culture.

The last time Mehigan was in Mumbai, he prepared an exquisite 7-course dinner inspired by his then recent world travels and the food he encountered there. This time, Mehigan flew down to Mumbai and Kolkata to give a masterclass organised by Conosh, a community of food lovers, as well as present a dinner for culinary enthusiasts in Kolkata.


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Considering a large portion of the Indian population doesn’t consume eggs, Gary taught a bunch of budding bakers his classic summer desserts with an eggless twist. Refreshing Summer Berries Pavlova, Panna Cotta with Citrus Flavours & Candied Nuts and a heavenly Mango Tart with Green Cardamom Sorbet were some of the desserts that participants created. Bakers got the opportunity to learn countless tips and tricks that the culinary master has collected over his many years of experience in the baking world.

In a tête-à-tête with Gary, the chef tells us all about his recent visit, growing love for Indian food, upcoming projects and more.

ELLE: How has it been after the Masterchef Australia journey?

Gary Mehigan (GM): Thankfully, I have had little time to rest. I worked on a show called Plate of Origin with Matt Preston, and then a little thing called lockdown happened, so I worked on my podcast and did a lot of virtual masterclasses with food community-driven brands like Conosh, who I am still working for now, but thankfully I get to come to India. Now I am filming a 10-part series for National Geographic India called Mega Festivals, travelling to some incredible destinations and discovering the most incredible food and meeting amazing individuals.

ELLE: What is it that fascinates you the most about Indian food? What makes you visit the country repeatedly? 

GM: I not only love the flavour but the textures, colours and different temperatures you combine in a dish. India has a way of celebrating through food with such passion and ceremony, and I now have many friends in India. I visit a lot at the moment for work, and I believe in the vision of Conosh – to up-skill home chefs and to bridge the gap between chefs and their audience through experience dining pop-ups. With Conosh, I have done 8 dinners and 6 Masterclasses across 8 Indian cities.


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However, I also use the opportunity to travel for pleasure. I recently got to travel with my wife to Kerala and Goa, and we have a number of other destinations on our list. The biggest learnings would be the complexities of flavour in your spice and that there can never be too many breads in this world.


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ELLE: What have you been exploring on your recent visits to India? Any region’s food that you liked the most? 

GM: I have been to some incredible destinations on my travels for Mega Festivals. Best to check my Instagram, but to name a few, Nagaland was an eye-opener. I have always wanted to go, but it was even better than I expected. The food was incredible; fermented bean sprouts, and fermented mustard leaves in a paste, one of the things I wished I could have brought home. Loved the Naga Pork and smoked fish. I also loved Kachori Aloo Jhol in Madurai and Aloo Tikki. And one of my favourite things to do is stand on the side of the road, enjoy a Masala Chai and watch the world go by. 


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ELLE: Any Indian desserts you like?

GM: All the usual suspects Gulab Jamun, Kheer, Mango Halwa, and anything Pooja Dhingra makes!

ELLE: Is there any new Indian dish you tried and were pleasantly surprised with?

GM: Yes, Ennai Kathirikai that I ate in Chithirai. I also loved the Mushroom Biryani and Malli Chutney, Kambu Koozh and Karuvadu.

ELLE: What are some tips you’d like to share with budding home bakers?

GM: Baking is a precise form of cooking. The measurements, process and cooking times and temperature are important to a successful end result. And if it doesn’t work out the first time, keep trying. Like anything, baking needs practice.

ELLE: What’s your favourite Indian dish to cook back home?

GM: There are a lot, but one I made recently was Haraa Masalewala Murg, which was pretty darn good if I must say so myself. The smooth green curry paste is what makes the dish so delicious.


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ELLE: Would you ever consider opening an Indian restaurant? 

GM: I would if I could have a really great Indian Chef at the helm. I love Indian food, and I have taught myself to cook a lot of dishes, but I would leave it to the experts.

ELLE: Are you working on any upcoming projects?

GM: I have been filming Hemis in Leh Ladakh for my series Mega Festivals for National Geographic, and it has been incredible.


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- Lifestyle Editor


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