The Rotherham-based 30-year-old only began to bake when he moved from Kolkata to the UK at the age of 23, discovering a world of new flavours and cuisines which have inspired his "east-meets-west" baking style.
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"Even five years ago I really had no idea about The Great British Bake Off," he says. But persistent pressure from one of his colleagues who knew about his fondness for baking led him to throw his hat in the ring.
"He kept sending me the application link, until I said to him that I have started applying," he says.
Still, he reckons most of his friends and co-workers will be shocked that he's won a place on the show: "I think pretty much everybody I know will be surprised. They know I bake, but not to the scale that I could enter the tent. Colleagues I knew during my PhD don’t have a clue that I can bake. Back in India I didn’t bake either. All of them and actually myself are surprised that I made it into the tent.
Though he spends a lot of time carefully planning out his more intricate bakes, Rahul concedes that he is not very tidy.
"I am a very messy baker and viewers will see that," he says. "My flat is quite small and so it's even messier at home, a bit issue!"
And, if he was to create a new flavour of crisp in the GBBO tent, it would be pilau rice or palak (spinach) paneer.
Rahul's Bake Off journey
Rahul felt Paul Hollywood's wrath in Patisserie Week, when he was scolded for not glazing his fruit and creating "hideous" mille feuilles and "boring" eclairs - but he still made it through to the final.
In a major twist for Bake Off 2018's most consistent contestant, Danish Week proved disastrous for Rahul, who managed to get through to the semi-finals by the skin of his teeth, despite baking raw bread and burnt pancakes.
In Pastry Week, teacher's pet Rahul received ANOTHER Hollywood Handshake...
But obviously still managed to find something to get stressed about...
"Little genius" Rahul is getting so good that it's actually starting to grate on Paul. Here is a video of him apologising for being too talented in Spice Week. Classic Rahul.
Once again, Rahul was pure comedy gold during Dessert Week.
Rahul received the honour of Star Baker for the second time in a row during Bread Week - and won over viewers with his fascination with pheasants...
And the fact he bakes to make friends...
Rahul's luck picked up in Cake Week when he claimed what Paul Hollywood called the first EVER showstopper Hollywood Handshake and took the Star Baker title, too.
While Rahul seriously impressed with his showstopper selfie, it wasn't all high praise for the baker in Biscuit Week – especially when Paul praised how well he'd portrayed his "chubby little face" in biscuit form.
Still, he's at least quickly won a new fan in former Bake Off star Tamal Ray.
Rahul Mandal: Key Facts
Job: Research scientist
The Great British Bake Off airs Tuesdays on Channel 4 at 8pm