Top Chef: Cooking a scrumptious scalloped potato roll with Fatima

Ah, potatoes. Who doesn’t love a good, hearty dish with this starchy root vegetable? This widely accessible ingredient is so versatile, sometimes eating it just as is, can be soooo satisfying. You can bake it, deep fry it, stuff it– you name it!  

That’s why we invited Fatima– a 1st year food science student with a penchant for cooking and food– who won this week’s Non-Vegetarian course. Read on and find out her story on how she made a Scalloped Potato roll on her first try. 

Q: Congratulations on winning the non-vegetarian course for this year’s Top Chef competition! Can you tell me a little bit about your dish?

I made a Scalloped Potato roll. It looked like a Swiss roll but this is the meat version. First I sliced the potatoes and baked them with eggs and cheese so that they would form a sheet. And then I made a separate meat filling using mushrooms, red bell pepper, green bell pepper with different kinds of spices like ginger, garlic, and red chili powders. After I cooked the meat, I placed the meat filling in the middle [of the potato sheet] and then just rolled it before I cut them into a few slices.

Q: Interesting! Sounds like a very technical dish you made there. What inspired you to make this dish?

I’ve always been a bit of a foodie. I love cooking and even my degree is [in] food sciences. So when I saw a cook-off post on MUSA’s Instagram page, I was like “I need to join this!”. Then I told this to my family and they encouraged me, they said like, yeah, you should join this, join [for] all the weeks and see what you can win.

Q: Was this like a family recipe or did you look it up?

I looked it up a lot and then [this dish] came up. I thought this would have the best flavor and it would complement this [challenge] a lot. It’s not a traditional recipe.

Q: Yum! I can imagine how filling this must have been. Can you describe what it tastes like?

I think a mix of lasagna and a steak with some mashed potatoes, that kinda taste. Except that it doesn’t have tomato sauce [laughs]. The main flavor came from the caramelized meat and you could taste a little bit of the potatoes as well, with a slight tone of sharpness from some cheddar cheese that I’ve thrown in.

Q: Was it a difficult dish to make?

Yes! It was kind of time-consuming. I think it took around three to four hours to make [laughs].

When I found this recipe, I thought, “okay, I can do this and I should do it”. But I was really worried with [making] the potato sheet. [The sheets] can get burned easily because they were [cut into] thin slices. It would be difficult to roll the meat filling but it worked in the end! Yeah, it was my first time making this dish.

Q: How did your family react?

They were waiting for me to take the photos so they could eat the dish [laugh]. So right after I took the photos, they tried my dish and they liked it. I enjoyed eating it too.

Q: Since you mentioned that you enjoy cooking, how long have you been cooking then?

I’ve been cooking ever since I was in first, second grade. Yeah, I’ve been cooking for a long time. So at first, I used to cook basic foods like fried eggs, or you know, cook instant noodles. I used to watch all the episodes from MasterChef Australia during my O-Levels because I love watching it so much! Then I started trying dishes on my own. 

I think I first started with baking cakes. I thought baking simple cakes is easier than other dishes but no [laugh].

Eventually, I moved on to some more traditional Pakistani dishes, like chicken Karahi and all that stuff. I think my mom was my biggest inspiration. She loves cooking just as much as I do. She even took cooking classes when she was in college. She mainly taught me basic cooking and traditional dishes.

Now since I love cooking and my family and friends enjoy what I cook, I thought I should pursue this as a degree. That’s what inspired me.

Q: Now the real million-dollar question is: what do you plan to do with your prize money?

Honestly, I haven’t thought about it! I was excited after finding out about this [laughs]. But I think I’ll take my family out for a treat.


As promised, here’s the recipe in case anyone wants to try their hand with this dish! – Scalloped Potato Roll Recipe 

Ingredients:

2 russet potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
3 whole eggs
Salt and pepper for taste

For the beef mincemeat filling:
350 grams of minced beef
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 dried button mushrooms (rehydrated in water)
1/2 of green and red bell pepper
1 tsp ginger and garlic (formed into a paste)
1/2 a tsp of red chili powder
Salt and pepper

Instructions:

 A) Preparing the potatoes

1. Thinly slice the potatoes (in a scalloped, circle shape) and place it into a separate bowl.
2. Add 3 eggs, followed with a cup of cheddar cheese, a tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves before adding some salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients together.
3.After mixing the ingredients, add the potatoes into the mixture and mix it thoroughly.
4. Take a flat baking pan and line it with a sheet of baking paper to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan.
5. Arrange each slice of potatoes side by side until it covers the entire pan.
6. Bake the potato sheet in an oven for 20 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.
7. Once done, let the potato sheet cool at room temperature until it is cooled to touch.

B) For the filling

8. Meanwhile in an oiled pan, add the minced meat and cook it until it turns light brown.
9. Then add a teaspoon of ginger and garlic paste followed with a tablespoon of tomato puree, along with salt and pepper and then cook it further.
10. Add a little bit of water and half a teaspoon of red chili powder to further cook the meat.
11. Once the water has evaporated, add some sliced red and green bell peppers and cook it for another minute until it is ready.

C) Assembly

12. Spread the meat filling evenly onto the baked potato sheet.
13. Use the baking paper from underneath to roll the sheet together with the filling until it forms like a Swiss roll.
14. Finally, Garnish with some melted cheese, coriander leaves and chopped red bell pepper.

Article by Elly Zulaikha 
Featuring Fatima Jahangir

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