Culinary darling of the nation Nadiya Hussain releases her latest cook book and television show
I didn’t have to read much of Nadiya’s British Food Adventure to know that I’d love this book. Her dedication note at the start to her grandparents had me hooked and I knew exactly what she was talking about. Nadiya is relatable in so many ways; without meeting her, I feel as though I have always known her. I loved flicking through the book to see all the delicious food pictures and recipes, but it was the introduction that really drew me in. Reading about Nadiya’s parents was like reading about my own mum and dad. Her childhood experiences were the same as mine, her upbringing was the same as mine, even our family roots went back to the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Hers is a story that speaks to the many intersecting and enriching identities that make up modern Britain, and that so many can relate to. It is wonderful to see her in print and on screen.
On her television show Nadiya has been great to watch. She’s a simple soul, sharing simple recipes, in simple terms. Her cooking is heartfelt and accessible. It has been especially enjoyable watching her take a British ingredient, add a little Bengali touch to it and create something that looks amazing. The episode where Nadiya was harvesting asparagus was a favourite. Having religiously watched the series so far, and being a passionate cook myself, I couldn’t wait to start on her cookbook.
I began with the ‘Tandoori Cod Burger’ for a refreshing lunch. The recipe was incredibly simple to follow, just mixing together shop-bought tandoori masala with Greek yoghurt, salt and oil. Now, having always made my own tandoori spice mix, this was a little difficult for me, and I’ve never used yoghurt in fish marinades. Nevertheless, I went ahead and cooked the cod just as Nadiya had instructed. The recipe directed to cook the fish as soon as the marinade had been applied. I personally, would have left the fish to absorb the flavours for an hour or so, and then cooked it. While the fish was resting, I decided to toast my slices of brioche loaf. This detail however, had been left out in the recipe; it was only from watching the series that I remembered Nadiya toasting the bread. As for the fish itself, I felt it could have done with a little more zing. A little spice maybe, some freshly chopped coriander or even a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.
Nadiya’s ‘Cardamom Banana Drop Scones’ were next on my list to try. They were absolutely delicious and will definitely be a regular dish for our table. The scones are especially good for children; my son was treated to these yummy delights for brunch and he loved them. However, I left out the bananas as we’re not too keen on them in our home. The adaptability of recipes to suit individual tastes is one of the great things about cooking.
I went on to trying out the ‘Masala Eggy Bread’. My version is made the traditional Pakistani way, where bread slices are coated with beaten egg that have been mixed with onions, tomatoes, chillies and fresh coriander, and then shallow fried. I’ve also made this dish using a method that is popular with the Bengali way of cooking, whereby chopped up bread is added to the vegetable eggy mix and then everything is cooked together. Nadiya’s recipe however, was completely different. Bread is dipped into beaten eggs and placed in the frying pan to cook. The onion mixture is scattered over the top before flipping it over. The end result is pleasant and not overpowering. However, instead of adding cumin seeds to the mixture, adding cumin powder to the beaten eggs would probably have worked better and added more taste.
Nadiya’s new book is the first cookbook to enter my kitchen, and I’m pleased to say that it will be staying there for a long time to come. There are many more recipes asking to be tried, with ‘Crab Cakes’ and ‘Country Beans’ next on my list. The layout of the book is flawless and the recipes very clearly written. However, some of the recipes do need a little attention to detail. When writing my own recipes for my readers, I ensure that they are very detailed so that when they’re replicated in other people’s kitchens the final dish looks and tastes exactly like mine.
From watching the show to exploring the recipes, I feel Nadiya’s British Food Adventure is a cookbook that is a must have for every home. It contains a variety of recipes that cover breakfast, brunch, light lunches, simple suppers and the most lushest of puddings. Nadiya’s reinvention and modernisation of classic British dishes with a bit of a Bengali twist is especially wonderful. I’m avidly looking forward to trying more recipes from the book and hope to see even more of Nadiya on the box. She’s a breath of fresh air, a mix of all my favourite television chefs rolled into one!
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