MasterChef Australia Winner Sashi Cheliah© Chef Sashi Cheliah

MasterChef Australia Winner Sashi Cheliah’s ‘Gaja Fried Chicken’ Recipe

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

Singapore-born Australian chef Sashi Cheliah has based his culinary philosophy on a valuable lesson he learnt from Gordon Ramsay. Less is always more. “Using fewer ingredients and creating and extracting maximum flavours out of those is extremely crucial rather than using a plethora of ingredients in a single dish wherein you can’t even identify individual flavours. This is why I like to work with lesser ingredients and create maximum flavours out of those ingredients,” says Cheliah, who is gearing up to cook up a storm with his six-course Malaysian and Singaporean degustation menu at W Goa.

“I’m incredibly excited to take over W Goa’s Spice Traders as part of World On A Plate’s (WOAP) initiative ‘WOAP Escape’. My style of cooking involves presenting authentic flavours but with a modern twist to it so the guests at Spice Traders, W Goa can expect exactly that. I will be presenting a six-course degustation menu of authentic Malaysian and Singaporean dishes which are robust, bold and fragrant! Even visually, we are looking at presenting them in a more refined manner.”

Cheliah, who won the cooking reality competition show MasterChef Australia with his bold and innovative exploration of flavours, is excited to see how his ‘less is more’ philosophy with flavours works on the Indian palate. “Being in India, I feel the Indian audience would love to try something different rather than the usual Indian flavours and hence whenever I’m in India, I try not to cook Indian flavours. I try to give the audience something new & unique, perhaps something they’ve never tried before as it’s not available easily here.”

Much before he was wowing audiences worldwide by whipping up mouthwatering dishes on television or taking over world-class restaurants, the chef was just a kid inordinately interested in figuring out why the dishes he loved tasted so good. “I was always intrigued to know what goes into a particular dish, what’s the cooking process and what makes a dish in that form. So it started at a very young age, and then it has just developed over the years.”

With Pandan Club, his pilot project in India, taking off, Cheliah is excited about opening the restaurant in other parts of the country as well and he’s also releasing a cookbook very soon.

On our insistence, Cheliah decided to part with the recipe for one of his signature dishes the Gaja Fried Chicken. So bookmark this page and try your hand at cooking like a MasterChef winner!

Chef Sashi Cheliah’s takeover of Spice Traders at W Goa will happen on October 1, 2022.

Chef Sashi Cheliah’s Recipe for Gaja Fried Chicken

To prep the chicken:

Chicken thighs, skinned and deboned, cut 1×2 lengthwise

Marinade and keep overnight in:

● 125ml White Vinegar

● 500g Yoghurt

● 80g Kashmiri Chilli Powder

● 30g Garam Masala

● 10g Turmeric

● 40g Salt

● 2 tbsp Ginger Paste

● 2 tbsp Garlic Paste

For Chilli Salt to dust onto chicken and tofu:

● 100gm Mango Powder

● 180gm Chaat Masala

● 280 gm Chilli Powder

For Avocado Cream:

● 2 ripe Avocados

● Zest of 1 lime Juice of 2 lime

● 120g Sour Cream

● 80g Oil

● ½ tsp Xanthan gum

● 5g Ground Cumin

● 3 Garlic Cloves

● 1 bunch Coriander

● 5g Salt

● 40g vegan Fish Sauce

(Put into thermomix, blend till emulsified and smooth and set in squeeze bottles)

For the Sambal Mayo:

● 2L Mayo

● 200g Sambal

● 20g Lemon Juice


● Fried curry leaves


1) Marinade chicken thighs (as mentioned above) and keep overnight.

2) Cut tofu in the same shape and length as the chicken, 1cm thick slices.

3) Use the same marinade for tofu as used on the chicken.

4) Both tofu and chicken to be dusted with potato starch and deep fried.

5) Dust Chili Salt on Chicken and Tofu before serving.

6) Top up with Avocado Cream and Sambal Mayo.

7) Garnish with fried curry leaves.