As one of the home cooks on MasterChef Season 13, Purvi Dogra represents the Northeast region. While she lives in New Jersey, she pulls from her Indian culture in many of her dishes. During a recent conversation with Purvi, she explains why this food television platform is more than just winning a title.
When Purvi earned her apron on MasterChef Season 13, her cakes impressed with creative flavors. In addition to being visually stunning, the flavors were bold. Combining a lovely crumb with a unique approach, she earned a MasterChef Northeast apron.
Ahead of MasterChef Season 13 episode 8, Purvi Dogra spoke to FoodSided about her experience, why she feels it is important for her culture, and what is next on her culinary journey. While there were highs and lows in her journey, a classic Indian dish, Butter Chicken, did not meet expectations.
Although this dish is one that her family loves, Gordon Ramsay commented that he was familiar with the traditional dish. In some ways, that commentary created a higher expectation for the flavors.
Purvi explained that Butter Chicken is “a famous dish all over the world. It is full of flavor, butter spice. While my kids have eaten it forever, everyone has a different recipe.”
While cooks can have nuance to their versions, Purvi explained that she used thigh and legs on the show because of the time constraints. Although her husband would normally grill the chicken, that idea is not possible on MasterChef. In this challenge, the hope was that the dark meat would bring more flavor instead of a chicken breast that could become dry.
Although she could have picked any dish for this chicken challenge, Purvi felt it was important to highlight an iconic Indian dish. “The reason I was focusing more on Indian cuisines is because through the history of MasterChef there are few Indians who have competed. I was representing the Northeast because I’m from New Jersey, but I am also Indian. I wanted to give them a taste of authentic food.
In addition, Purvi shared a poignant reason for sharing her Indian culture. She said, “my mom is from Kasmir, and she is no longer with me. But, every time I cook, I think of her. She is with me through that food.”
That connection between food and culture is a sentiment that many people appreciate. Sharing a dish is more than just a well-executed plate. It is a window into a person’s past, present, and future.
While Purvi might have been making Butter Chicken for a long time, part of her culinary journey just started a few years ago. In addition to her day job as an accountant, Purvi is a baker and has started her own baking company, Everything But Plates.
What started as a desire to make cupcakes with her daughter from scratch became a passion. As seen on her Instagram, the beautiful, floral cupcakes are almost too pretty to eat.
Beyond the stunning visuals, many of her baking items are egg free. Similar to the cakes that she presented to earn her apron, Purvi shared that this concept is common in her culture. “In the Indian community 80% of the people want eggless. That’s how we grew up.”
That ability to see ingredients in different ways was helpful in some of the MasterChef challenges. Speaking to the apple Mystery Box challenge, Purvi said, “I had never cooked a savory apple dish and I was a little afraid. Luckily, I was able to do dessert.”
Even as she looks back at that dessert, she appreciates how the dish could evolve. She explained that if she had taken out the rice completely and focuses on the Indian spices, the dish might have earned her a top spot.
That ability to adapt, learn, and improve is key to Purvi’s culinary journey. Even though she was eliminated in the second Mystery Box of the season, she looks back at the Butter Chicken dish and sees how it can become something totally new.
Purvi explained how she is working on a new dish, Butter Chicken filled ravioli. The sauce would be a butter gravy sauce with the chicken stuffed into the pasta. That type of combination dish is a way to continue the conversation of finding connections through food. Instead of focusing on the differences, there are ways to find a thread that can tie everything together.
Although her time on MasterChef has ended, Purvi Dogra has many other culinary adventures on her plate. Whether it is her annual Thanksgiving feast that she cooks for 40 people or her baking business, Everything But Plates, the time might be coming where cooking will be her full-time job, not her side hustle.
MasterChef Season 13 continues on FOX. New episodes can be seen on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. and can be streamed the next day on HULU.