Rukhsaar Sayeed secures place in top 12 contestants of Master Chef India, earns praises for bringing laurels to hometown
Pampore: In the heart of Saffron Town Pampore, a picturesque town in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, a culinary prodigy, Dr. Rukhsaar Syeed, has emerged as a beacon of talent and creativity. With a PhD in food technology and an entrepreneurial spirit, she has not only captivated her community but also earned a prestigious spot among the top 12 contestants in one of India’s most revered culinary competitions, MasterChef India, currently streaming on Sony Liv.
Rukhsaar’s culinary journey is a testament to passion, determination, and a deep love for her Kashmiri heritage. Born and raised in the lap of the Himalayas, she developed an early fascination with the diverse array of vegetables and spices that adorned her family’s kitchen. Despite the challenges of limited internet access and scarce culinary guidance in Kashmir, Rukhsaar pursued her education in food technology. Her dream was not just to master the art of cooking but to showcase the rich tapestry of Kashmiri cuisine to the world.
In 2019, Rukhsaar and her husband, Saqib Javaid Qadri, established Khalis Foods, a venture driven by the desire to provide pure and healthy food products to their community. With a focus on quality and authenticity, Khalis Foods quickly gained a loyal customer base. Their products, renowned for their purity and health benefits, found their way into the shelves of departmental stores in Srinagar. Despite a brief hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo resumed their operations in 2021, emphasizing their commitment to promoting wholesome, unadulterated food.
Rukhsaar’s journey took a remarkable turn when she decided to audition for MasterChef India, a nationwide culinary competition that showcases the best talents from every corner of the country. The auditions were rigorous, spanning cities from Delhi to Guwahati. In this fiercely competitive environment, Rukhsaar’s culinary skills, rooted in her Kashmiri heritage, stood out. She secured her place among the top 22 contestants after gruelling auditions in Jammu and Mumbai. Today, she stands tall as one of the top 12 finalists, representing not just her family but the entire Kashmiri community.
For Rukhsaar, a mother of two, being a part of MasterChef India is not just a personal achievement; it is a platform to bring Kashmiri cuisine to the forefront of the culinary world. “I am currently in the top 12 in MasterChef India, and I am ecstatic about it. I hope to progress further, and I am putting in my utmost efforts for it,” she shared, her eyes sparkling with determination.
Her husband, Saqib Ahmad Qadri, an officer in a government department, expressed his happiness and unwavering support for Rukhsaar. “The entire family and even Rukhsaar’s parents are supporting her. Rukhsaar and some local girls have been working on frozen food since 2019. Rukhsar is very particular about providing pure and unadulterated food to others. She’s against any form of adulteration,” he affirmed. This commitment to purity and quality has been the cornerstone of Khalis Foods, reflecting their dedication to providing the same quality to others that they feed their own children.
Anjali Mishra, a representative from Sony LIV’s PR team in Mumbai, commended Rukhsaar’s ingenuity and culinary skills. “Rukhsar is putting in tremendous hard work. She consistently comes up with unique and innovative dishes, including Kashmiri cuisines, which have greatly impressed the judges. She is the sole representative from Kashmir in the top 12 of MasterChef India,” Anjali noted. Rukhsaar’s ability to infuse traditional Kashmiri flavours into her dishes has not only wowed the judges but also inspired viewers nationwide.
The significance of Rukhsaar’s journey goes beyond the realm of culinary excellence. In a region where aspirations are often limited by socioeconomic challenges, her story serves as a beacon of hope. “My message is that I have also pursued my education, including a Ph.D. However, here in Kashmir, it seems that people mainly aspire for government jobs, and those who pursue businesses or private jobs are not often considered successful,” Rukhsaar emphasized. Her journey is a testament to breaking stereotypes and encouraging the youth of Kashmir to pursue their passions fearlessly.
Rukhsaar’s aspirations extend far beyond personal glory. “I intend to go to Kashmir and start a unit there. I want to train both boys and girls in Kashmir because there is a lot of unemployment. I want to teach them what I’ve learned here so they can support themselves and not be dependent. I’ll provide them with the necessary training to set up their own cooking-related businesses, and I’ll also help the youth stay away from drugs and unemployment. This is my plan, and the rest is up to Allah,” She said.
Rukhsaar’s remarkable journey has not only brought pride to her hometown of Saffron Pampore but has also become a symbol of resilience and talent throughout Kashmir. Local residents have rallied behind her, offering prayers and well-wishes for her success in the competition. Her story resonates far beyond the realm of culinary arts, embodying the spirit of Kashmiri perseverance and excellence.
As Rukhsaar advances in the competition, she carries the hopes and dreams of her community, representing not only her hometown but the aspirations of an entire region. The nation eagerly anticipates her culinary prowess in the upcoming episodes of MasterChef India, where her journey continues to inspire countless individuals, reminding them that dedication and skill can indeed break barriers and reach national platforms.
Congratulations to Rukhsaar, the culinary maestro whose journey is now etched in the annals of MasterChef India history. Stay tuned as she competes for the coveted title, leaving an indelible mark on the culinary landscape of India.