In the first two weeks of My Kitchen Rules 2023, identical twin sisters Prabha and Radha achieved three things: They were fast-tracked to the semi-finals after achieving the highest score in the first round of Instant Restaurants; they made Colin Fassnidge cry; and they made their late father proud.
The sisters were raised by their single mother after their father passed away when they were just two years old.
"It was difficult at points because we have distinct memories of friends celebrating their dad's birthdays or Father's Day, and we would look to Mum and say 'Can you tell us a little bit about Dad?' and she would make sure that she would tell us stories, but there was always this weird empty space in our lives," Radha tells Refinery29 Australia.
Because they had no memories of their dad, their mum would teach them how to cook his favourite foods as a way to stay connected to him.
"We were too young to know what he was like, and what he sounded like, but one thing we wanted to know was what was his food like, what did he like to eat?" Prabha adds.
"And that's the one thing Radha and I have always kept close to us. When we eat something or when we cook something in the kitchen, it's where we feel the best presence of our dad, and our mum made sure that was the one way we felt strongly connected to him."
When they got accepted onto the reality TV cooking competition to represent NSW this year, the twins knew they wanted to stay true to their roots and honour their parents through their cooking.
"We've been watching the show for so many seasons now, and one thing we said to each other is if we went on the show there would be no substitution and it would be straight from our kitchen onto the plate and into their mouths," Radha explains.
"It wouldn't be changed in any way, shape or form, and I think it was very important for us to say let's not only remain true to our heritage but also true to our father and our mother."
At their Instant Restaurant, the twins served their dad's favourite dish — lamb rogan josh.
It was an emotionally moment for the sisters, their fellow contestants, and judges Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge. Fassnidge teared up as the sisters talked about their dad and what his favourite dish meant to them.
In the end, their dad's rogan josh got them fast-tracked to the semi-finals as the judges and their fellow contestants awarded them the highest score on the leaderboard.
In another touching moment, Feildel and Fassnidge encouraged the twins to continue cooking their food, their way.
"It not only provided a sense of relief but there was also a sense of acceptance, they accepted who we were, they accepted our father, they accepted our mum, that dish meant so much and we just felt a whole lot of happiness in that moment," Pradba says, recalling that moment.
"The pressure was definitely there to serve something that they would enjoy but I think at the end of the day, the heart of this show is what we recognise, it's home cooking on a plate and we weren't going to take away from that," Radha explains.
"We were going to be like, this is 100 per cent authentic, home-cooking, exactly how my mum said that Dad liked it and the fact that they enjoyed it, and it brought tears to Colin's eyes, and Manu was very happy with what he was served, it made us feel like Dad was there in that restaurant."
Apart from their dad's lamb rogan josh, the sisters believe they have another unique advantage in the competition. Over the years, they've been able to read each other's minds, tap into each other's emotions and even feel each other's physical pain.
"That level of connection is beyond what a normal sibling would have. The closeness that Radha and I shared has allowed us to be on the same wavelength," Prabha explains.
"We actually do read each other's minds, we feel each other's pain, we can sense each other's emotions," she continues.
The twins believe that this telepathic connection allowed them to stay cool under the pressure of the Instant Restaurant round.
"We are able to tap into each other's emotions very, very well and I think that was one of the biggest advantages we could have in this competition," Prabha says.
"It absolutely did give us an advantage. I think we innately just leaned on that specific, I guess you could call it a superpower, between us while cooking in the Instant Restaurant," Radha adds.
"There were points where sometimes we'd just stop communicating verbally and we would be thinking what we were thinking to each other."
While their family and friends have witnessed their telepathic connection in the past, it was a completely different experience having cameras capture it for a national TV show.
"We've never tested it in this magnitude before. We've never had cameras recording our telepathy before," Radha explains. "People have witnessed it for sure, our friends have witnessed it, but never at this scale."
The twins — who will next take on their fellow contestants in the semi-final — say their MKR experience has brought them even closer together.
"It 100 per cent brought us closer together. We were already very close but it made this experience so worthwhile, in such intense pressure moments, it was nice to know you had a familiar face," Prabha says.
"It's just really good to know that I've got my best friend, I've got my buddy, and I've got my little secret weapon with me here and vice versa."
"We've come out learning so much more about each other and we're always evolving, we're always growing, but the fact that Prabha and I can grow together in this experience makes it even more special," Radha adds.