Nadiya’s British Food adventure
Bake Off champ Nadiya Hussain on her foodie tour of the UK and why it’s time to embrace the diversity of our food
monday / bbc2 Last year the gentle chef presented The Chronicles of Nadiya from Bangladesh, now she’s back on our screens with another cooking-themed travelogue, this time around the UK. She’s championing the best of British food while meeting the locals who produce it. I’ll be keen to see her foraging in Scotland – I sometimes did that as a wee boy!
Our high streets are bursting with restaurants offering us a smorgasbord of flavours, from spicy Indian curries to glorious Italian pasta. No wonder we sometimes forget to celebrate our own, homegrown British food.
Hugely popular Bake Off 2015 winner and best-selling author Nadiya Hussain is hoping to put that right this week, as she follows up her hit two-part BBC1 travelogue, The Chronicles of Nadiya, with brand new eight-part series, Nadiya’s British Food Adventure.
‘Of course there are the classic British staples, but our food has become so diverse now, as have the people. I’m often asked if I’m British and of course I am!’ Nadiya tells us.
‘If you think about the origin of most of our favourite dishes, they’ve usually been introduced because travellers have settled here and brought their food with them. For me British food is what I grew up with, and that wasn’t necessarily pie and mash.
‘As I’ve travelled across the country for this series I’ve met so many different people and they all describe their food as British.’
Starting in the Home Counties, the series takes us across the length and breadth of the UK, as Nadiya, 32, meets the people who grow our produce. And of course she uses the incredible fresh ingredients to inspire her own recipes.
Nadiya’s favourite food story came when she met an innovative cheesemaker in Huddersfield. ‘I met a lovely lady called Razan, who fled Syria a few years ago and has become a food pioneer,’ she tells us.
‘She used to eat halloumi every day for breakfast and missed it when she got to the UK, so she decided to use the gorgeous Yorkshire milk on her doorstep to make her own halloumi. Now she supplies it all over the country and, I can tell you, it’s absolutely sensational!’
Nadiya also went crab fishing in Norfolk, but admits she found the experience a bit of an ordeal. ‘I went out on a boat with my fisherman friend Richard, and picked my own Cromer crab. I cooked, boiled and dressed it myself,’ she recalls.
‘I learned the hard way that I don’t have sea legs though, which was horrific – I spent most of my time being sick over the boat! Luckily Richard was kind and lovely. He’s passionate about what he does.’
Although she felt nauseous, crab fishing inspired Nadiya’s favourite recipe of the series. ‘I grew up in a Bangladeshi home with spices and intricate favours, so what I learnt in Norfolk was that actually sometimes one ingredient can speak for itself and does not need to be crowded with a million different things,’ she says.
‘There was no way I could have tasted the crab if I’d put in lots of garlic and ginger, so I really had to think about how to keep the meal simple and tasty. I ended up making summer rolls with rice paper and lots of colourful vegetables and lemon zest. It was delicious!’
Once back on dry land, Nadiya was also able to discover the joys of foraging in Scotland. ‘I met a lovely guy who taught me to cook a curry using nothing but foraged ingredients,’ Nadiya explains.
‘I couldn’t believe it. I learned all about nature’s supermarket. There is so much free food and it’s there on our doorstep.’
Nadiya also visited a family bakery to sample the classic British loaf. ‘I met an artisan baker in Scotland who took over a watermill from his in-laws. He decided to run a café there and make his own bread. There was a stream of people from 9.00am to 4.00pm hoovering up this beautiful bread. It smelt amazing!’ explains Nadiya, who co-hosts BBC2’S forthcoming The Big Family Cooking Showdown and is filming a documentary on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, to be shown later this year.
Nadiya hopes her British food adventure, which also visits the West Country, Wales and the Peak District, will entice us to take a few more risks when we’re eating out. ‘It’s human nature to eat what you’re used to, to be comfortable and unadventurous, but the best food is often where you least expect it,’ she says.
‘I base all my trips and holidays around food and it’s not about fancy restaurants – I like the teeny-weenie little places that sell something they make with love. It sounds really silly, but when food is made from the heart it always tastes delicious.’
Recipe taken from Nadiya’s British Food Adventure (Penguin £20), out on 13 July
There is so much free food and it’s there on our
if you’ve ever wondered where the British food on your plate comes from, join Nadiya Hussain for a trip around the country, discovering where our produce is farmed and grown. In part one of her adventure, the most popular Bake Off winner of all time heads to the Home Counties to smoke some haddock, pick some asparagus and create a decadent Eton Mess cheesecake. There are some tantalising recipes to copy at home, including beautiful cheese scones and an amazing twist on Welsh rarebit. But if you enjoy the cringe factor of people desperately pretending to enjoy a meal, watch out for the poor folk taste-testing Nadiya’s very spicy stir fry…
Nadiya travels the UK in search of exciting fresh ingredients
razan’s halloumi cheese is made from yorkshire milk
Nadiya’s doing another food show – yay!