Muscat’s Masterchefs

18 Sep 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

From fine dining to family cooking, three days of culinary competition put more than 70 professional and 15 amateur chefs to the test. Ailish Fleming meets the winners



The stage at the Food and Hospitality Oman show was set and first to the hot plate was the Professional Chefs Competition, which would see contestants demonstrate their skills in categories ranging from wedding cakes to five-course gourmet menus. BreadTalk claimed first place in the Three-Tier Wedding Cake category and Oman Air were the high fliers of the Petits Fours, taking both first and second place. The final event of the competition, the Five-course Gourmet Dinner Menu was a mouth-watering medley of the chefs’ most beautiful creations. Of course, there could only be one winner and with his precise and creative presentation, Prasad Francis of the Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa took the top prize.

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Prasad Francis grew up and learned to cook on the Keralan coast, with its bountiful seafood, which, appropriately, is his favourite cooking ingredient. Just as his gourmet presentation was clean and elegant, so is his ideal Keralan style fish curry. “I like to keep it natural and fresh. Simply add some spices like coriander, chili, turmeric and coconut milk to the fish,” says Prasad.

Organised by the Oman Chefs Guild and the National Hospitality Institute (NHI), the professional competition was aimed at getting chefs to strive for excellence. “Competing encourages chefs to raise their standards, the quality of food and also public interest,” says Rob MacLean, principal of the NHI.

Similarly, the amateur Best Chef Oman competition was geared towards raising the profile of cooking in Oman. “It’s a great way to present Omani cuisine, whether through dishes or just ingredients,” Zuwaina Ali al Fazari, of Oman College of Tourism, says. “It also encourages people to learn about food and hygiene while improving their passion.”

Over the three days, home cooks prepared either international or Omani dishes, with the competition narrowed down to three from each category for the final round. The winners were Rahma al Namani and Maisa al Makhary and both ladies were more than willing to share a simple dish with Y readers.

Oman ‘Best Chef Competition’ Recipes

International cuisine

“I like international cooking because I find it to be lighter and use less oil. It’s also simple and allows me to add my own special touches, sweets and starters are my favourites.”

Rahma’s simple chicken skewers are ideal for a BBQ, served with rice or fresh salad.

Chicken skewers in Yogurt Marinade

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Salt
  • Curry powder
  • Lemon
  • Yogurt
  • Parsley

Method

  1. Chop the onions finely and fry with garlic, ginger, curry powder and salt until they are slightly softened
  2. Add the juice of one lemon juice and chopped parsley to the pan
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt
  4. Allow the yogurt mix to cool, dice the chicken breast and place in a bowl, pour the yogurt over, giving an equal coverage
  5. Chill in the fridge for two hours
  6. Soak wooden skewers in water to prevent them burning, then place the chicken and vegetables of your choice on the skewers
  7. Grill or fry until the chicken is cooked through

Omani Cuisine

“I love cooking because you’re always learning. There’s no end to cooking and it allows you to be creative”

Try Maisa’s traditional Omani Khabeesa to satisfy your sweet tooth:

Khabeesa

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Ingredients

  • Milk powder – 3 tbsp
  • All purpose flour – 1 cup
  • Cornstarch – 3 tbsp
  • Sugar – 150g
  • Water -150ml
  • Cardamom
  • Rose water
  • Saffron
  • Mixed nuts

Method

  1. Make a simple syrup by placing sugar and water in a pan, bring to the boil and then simmer very gently over a low heat – stirring to ensure it doesn’t crystallise
  2. Add cardamom (pods or powdered), rose water and saffron to your taste
  3. Combine the other ingredients separately and brown in a pan, over a low heat, without oil
  4. Let the flour mixture cool before adding the sugar syrup (remove cardamom pods if used) to create a paste
  5. While the mix is still hot, pour it into a piping bag and pipe into multiple small circles
  6. Garnish using chopped mixed nuts


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