A born and bred Durban boy, Dr Harri grew up in Isipingo and attended Kingsway High School. “I come from a traditional Indian family with two siblings, an older sister and an older brother… Yes, I’m the baby of the family and I love it,” he laughs.
When applying for university came around Dr Harri knew he wanted to do something in the health sciences that involved working with people. “But I also enjoy working with my hands, so dentistry was definitely a great fit,” he says – adding that he followed in his sister’s footsteps.
“I studied at the university of the Western Cape, where I made some amazing friends along the way and we still remain close even though we all live in all corners of the country,” says Dr Harri, who loves travelling. “In 2017 I did a spiritual trip to India, after I qualified as a dentist. This is one of my most treasured memories. I love to travel solo as it allows one to meet so many new and interesting people.”
After his community service in Ladysmith, Dr Harri started working in a private practice. “I was thrown into the deep end with it being a busy and well-known practice, but I swam and definitely came out stronger,” he says. “I am grateful for all the friendships I made and opportunities I was given along the way. But I know it’s now time for me to forge my own path.” Currently setting up his own practice at the Oxford Village Centre in Hillcrest, Dr Harri says it will open soon and he’ll be practicing there from early 2023. “It’s nerve-wrecking but so fulfilling at the same time.”
Two years ago Dr Harri moved to Hillcrest from Umhlanga. “Having always lived along the coast I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy being so far away from the sea – and the hustle and bustle of Umhlanga. But I can honestly say that I love it up here – especially the sense of community,” he says. “I find people so interesting. One of the questions I always ask my patients is what they do for a living. I’ve met patients who have some of the most unique and interesting jobs or businesses. It’s just fascinating to me.”
Dr Harri always gravitated towards the kitchen when he was younger. “I had great influence from my aunts, grandmother, mother and my sister – who was and still is the baker in the family,” he says. “My mum liked to try out new and interesting dishes, and she didn’t always cook as traditional as most Indian mothers would. But in university, living in a dorm room with only a microwave and air fryer, the creativity really started to blossom. I still think the BBQ wings I made in the air fryer could challenge any restaurant.”
All about fuss-free cooking and most importantly; serving delicious food, Dr Harri loves entertaining friends and family. “Either my menus will be something to push you out of your comfort zone, or it’s to bring back wholesome memories.”
Dr Harri’s MasterChef journey started with a food blog on Instagram during lockdown. “A few friends and family members sent me links to enter MasterChef South Africa, Season 4. At first, I was very hesitant, as cooking for me was an outlet to relax. Why would I enter this competition to put myself in a stressful situation, doing something I do to escape the stresses of everyday life? But I knew it was time for me to make a move and take a risk. I told myself that if I didn’t do this now, who knows what other opportunities I would avoid or miss in the future – just because it was out of my comfort zone.”
After MasterChef he really fell in love with his South African Indian heritage, as the show’s challenges focused on heritage and upbringings – embracing how different and unique the flavours are. “I really want to inspire young South African Indians to be more proud of our food and heritage,” he says – adding that meeting so many amazing people that have been so influential in the South African food scene was also a MasterChef highlight. “I want to keep the momentum going and really make my voice heard. Start conversations that are really meaningful to Durban food culture specifically.
“I’ve realised that the sky is definitely not the limit,” says Dr Harri, who finished seventh out of the 20 MasterChef contestants. And the viewers all loved him – as does his Upper Highway patients.*
Photo Credits: Lisa B photography | SH photography | MNet