Culture & Lifestyle / British-Pakistani Woman Crowned MasterChef 2017 Champion

British-Pakistani Woman Crowned MasterChef 2017 Champion

Culture & Lifestyle May 16, 2017

Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed was recently crowned UK’s MasterChef champion of 2017, all thanks to desi spices and her Pakistani heritage.

The junior doctor and mother to a two-year-old was selected from 64 amateur cooks in the 13th season of the MasterChef competition, headed by John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

“To be the Masterchef champion is fantastic and wonderful,” she said on her win. “Adjectives are not sufficient. This is definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life! It involved a lot of hard work and early starts – late nights cooking after 13-hour long shifts, no holidays, no breaks, no sleep – but it was well worth it!”

Mahmood-Ahmed went through seven weeks of culinary challenges. Photo Credit:

The champion’s love of cooking was influenced by her family and their love for whipping up a larger-than-life  spread.

“I’m from a big Pakistani family and we use food as a way of bringing everyone together,” Mahmood Ahmed said. “I had very passionate grandmothers who cooked traditional Pakistani food and my mum is also an excellent cook. We love to feed people – it runs in our genes.”

The cooking queen made use of her Pakistani heritage and drew off Persian and Kashmiri influences to present a winning three-course meal to satisfy palates from the east to the west.

MasterChef Saliha
The winning three dishes: starter, main course, and dessert. Photo Credit:

Mahmood-Ahmed’s starter was in memory of her grandmother’s house in Pakistan: A Venison shami kebab, with cashew and coriander green chutney, “chana dal” and a kachumbar salad.

The main dish was Kashmiri-style sous-vide duck breast: Crispy duck skin, freekeh wheatgrain, spiced with dried barberries, walnuts and coriander, a cherry chutney and a duck and cherry sauce.

The dessert was inspired by a childhood love of baklava: Saffron rosewater and cardamom panna cotta, served with deconstructed baklava, candied pistachios, pistachio honeycomb, filo pastry shards and kumquats.

MasterChef Saliha
Judges Torode and Wallace were immensely proud of the winner. Photo Credit:

The MasterChef judges were teary eyed and blown away by the “mouthful after mouthful of pure joy” meal.

Torode’s said, “Saliha is a class act. She’s walked in here and taken her food and taken her culture apart and put it back together in a very modern and exciting way.”

Wallace added that, “it’s east meets west and it’s stunningly good.”

MasterChef Saliha
Mahmood-Ahmed’s phenomenal win has left a sour taste in some mouths. Photo Credit:

The Masterchef champion is celebrating her win but has recently faced online abuse, with some people suggesting her only prospect after the show would be to open a “curry house.”

While the internet trolls and “casual racists” have taken to social media to express their disdain, Mahmood-Ahmed is cooking up other things.

Her dream is to write cookbooks and tackle obesity, and to help people with dietary conditions find their ideal foods.


Main Image Photo Credit:

Nomaan Khan

Nomaan Khan


After spending some time in a completely different field, Nomaan decided to drop it all and switch to Mohawk College to pursue his longtime interest in the world of Journalism. His experience working in multimedia platforms has helped him develop exceptional skills in thinking on his feet, being ...


Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter for all of the latest news, buzz, blogs and radio shows, delivered directly to your inbox!

openchest LogoSHOW AIRING
openchest Logo

Weekly Celebrity Talk Show Airing