Nadiya’s play­ing by her own rules

The Great British Bake Off win­ner en­joys ig­nor­ing well-worn tra­di­tion when it comes to food. She tells Ella Walker that her new cook­book con­tains a fish fin­ger lasagne and an up­side down cheese­cake, and why she’s strict when it comes to fam­ily meal­times

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

Nadiya Hus­sain is a to­tal rule-breaker th­ese days. “I’m a part of two very dif­fer­ent worlds — I’m British and I’m Bangladeshi,” the 33-year-old ex­plains. “And be­cause I’m part of th­ese two amaz­ing worlds, I have no rules and no re­stric­tions.”

Three years on from win­ning Great British Bake Off, the Lu­ton-born home cook is back with a new cook­book and ac­com­pa­ny­ing BBC se­ries, Nadiya’s Fam­ily Favourites, in which she com­pre­hen­sively “de­mol­ishes” the pork pie.

In fact, she’s en­tirely reimag­ined the clas­sic pic­nic snack, and gone and stuffed a hot wa­ter crust pas­try case with a samosa fill­ing.

“I’ve taken the pork out and put the samosa in,” she says, giddy on her own culi­nary power. “I have no rules, and be­cause I have no re­spect what­so­ever for tra­di­tion, I can do what­ever I want, and that’s why I feel so lucky.”

This recipe col­lec­tion also sees her flip a baked cheese­cake up­side down, make a sin­gle eclair into a colos­sal cakey-roll, in­vent a fish fin­ger lasagne (re­ally), swap the prawn in prawn toast for chicken, and ‘spike’ a dish of mac­a­roni cheese with pic­calilli. The woman’s a mav­er­ick.

How­ever, her ap­proach to clash­ing and mix­ing flavours and food-based in­sti­tu­tions has trig­gered some tut­ting and huff­ing. No­tably, she at­tracted crit­i­cism from the “Cor­nish pasty po­lice” af­ter she made some packed with lamb, ap­ple and peas. “I got a mas­sive telling off,” she says, with an equally mas­sive grin. “What’s wrong with chang­ing things around and mak­ing them taste dif­fer­ent?”

Food, Hus­sain says, is meant to be fun and ex­per­i­mented with. “It’s an ex­pres­sion of love. Why not mess about with it? It’s fun and it’s ex­cit­ing; food is meant to bring joy and hap­pi­ness — and bring fam­i­lies to­gether.”

She might be all about break­ing rules in the kitchen, but she does have rules when it comes to sit­ting down to din­ner. “There’s one rule in our house and it is, ‘This is not a restau­rant, you will eat what you’re given’. That’s it, so if you don’t eat what you’re given, then you go to bed hun­gry, it’s as sim­ple as that.” It’s tough love, but Hus­sain doesn’t feel guilty if her trio of kids — Musa, Dawud and Maryan — refuse to eat what’s avail­able.

“I feel a bit bad that they didn’t eat, but they’ve learnt through time that I am not mess­ing around,” she says.

Luck­ily, she and hus­band Ab­dal have man­aged to pro­duce chil­dren that aren’t fussy

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