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"It's the best-kept secret": A MasterChef's 10 easy tips to make every meal better.

In MasterChef, you learn to think on your feet - especially when you're required to create a presentable and tasty dish without a recipe from specific ingredients in a limited amount of time. This is where I really surprised myself and actually thrived on the challenge.  

From there I spent the last six years opening restaurants in India. This also tested my ability to adapt to a new style of cooking. Trained in classic French cuisine, I was suddenly thrown into the land of spices and flavour.  

These are my top tips to make your dish incredible - and trust me, you can do it all in as little as 20 minutes.

Side note: You should never reheat these five foods in the microwave. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

1. Start with a well-stocked spice cupboard.

Spices elevate the most humble ingredients. When roasting, add cumin to your carrots and chat masala to your roast potatoes to enhance the flavour.

2. Get high quality oil.

Ensure it’s all natural and fresh. You'll be surprised at how much a low quality or artificial oil can alter your dish.

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3. Don’t underestimate citrus.

Often a squeeze of lemon or lime can take your dish to the next level. 

It can feel strange at times squeezing lemon or lime on your curry but trust me, add it to everything; it's the best-kept secret!

4. Buy local, fresh and in season produce.

Ingredients grown in the same region and at the same time of year taste the best together!

5. Have pickles ready to go in the fridge.

Homemade or store bought, they last forever and enhance every dish. 

There is a lemon pickle in my book, My Indian Kitchen that I am currently using in everything. 

Serve with flatbread for a cheat’s dinner, finely chop for a salsa verde to accompany steak or simply add to salad dressing - or even on an antipasti plate.

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6. Stock up on canned legumes.

Last night I made the most incredible chickpea curry using only pantry staples in 20 minutes. A tasty and nutritious saviour for any last-minute guests!

7. Create a herb garden.

I'm not much of a green thumb but things like mint and rosemary grow like weeds and are such a great flavour enhancer to add to your dishes. Cheap and convenient.

8. Seasoning - and I don’t just mean salt and pepper (though of course that’s an option).

Seasoning can come from ingredients that are salty, such as bacon, goat’s cheese and haloumi. 

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For peppery, add rocket or spices for that depth of flavour. If you're vegan, add nutritional yeast!

Listen to Mamamia's food podcast, What I Eat When. On this episode, Masterchef's Diana Chan talks about her comfort food of choice. Post continues below.

9. Plating!

Get your MasterChef plating hat on and get creative. We eat with all senses and the first is sight, so make it pretty. 

Don’t take too long with this though, as you don’t want the food to get cold.

10. Finish with a garnish.

When garnishing, use an ingredient that is in the recipe. Don’t add a random inedible rosemary sprig. Go with crushed nuts, torn fresh herbs, a drizzle of coconut milk, julienne fried onion, julienne chilli, fried chickpeas - anything edible in the dish!

Six years ago Sarah fell in love with the people, food and culture of India. In her new book My Indian Kitchen, Sarah takes you beyond the well-known restaurant favourites of butter chicken, chicken tandoori and dal. Combining her passion for Indian flavours with classical French techniques, she has created light, balanced and healthy dishes for you to make at home. For more from Sarah, follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Supplied.