Nadiya Hussain wowed the nation with her creative bakes and witty humour. She chats exclusively to DESIblitz about her Desi background and how life has changed since winning The Great British Bake Off.
“I thought I was out of the competition every single week."
Nadiya Hussain was made winner of 2015’s series of The Great British Bake Off.
She was given the title of ‘Star Baker’ twice by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (even receiving the famous Hollywood handshake) with her spectacular bakes.
Nadiya resides in Luton with her husband, Abdal and three children. She is a full-time mother to her two sons and daughter.
Her mother and father introduced her to Desi cooking at a young age.
But while desserts and baking were not prominent in her Bangladeshi background, it was her school cookery lessons and teacher Mrs Marshall that sparked her interest and curiosity for baking.
DESIblitz chats exclusively to Nadiya about her experience in The Great British Bake Off.
Which bake did you find the most enjoyable to make?
“Although it’s not technically a bake, I really enjoyed making the chocolate peacock in week 9.
“It was an excellent opportunity to showcase some sort of artistry. I really enjoyed that aspect.”
Were there any moments when you thought you were going to be out of the competition?
“I thought I was out of the competition every single week. I was genuinely filled with dread every week.
“By the end of the weekend I was filled with a sense of impending doom and I was always surprised when I made it through.
“Even up to the final I was feeling shocked at how far I had come.”
Out of all your fellow contestants, who have you grown closest to?
“I get along well with all of the contestants really well, but by the end I had definitely grown closer to Tamal, Flora and Ian.
“But I absolutely adore them all.”
Were you apprehensive about infusing your Asian culture in some of your bakes?
“I was never apprehensive about incorporating any aspect of ‘me’.
“I am so many things. I am British, Muslim, Bengali, Mother, Wife, Homemaker etc. I have never been more proud of who I am.
“Being from the Bangladeshi culture, one of the best things I have learnt are the recipes. My family are amazing cooks and incorporating some of the flavours has been an honour.”
What was it like being reunited with your teacher, Mrs Marshall, who inspired you to bake?
“That was a pleasant surprise. She was the one who planted that seed. If she never introduced me to baking, I may never have been interested myself.
“She always encouraged us as her students and always praised us where it was due. She is still as nice and lovely as ever.”
Your quirky facial expressions and ‘on point’ eyebrows are quite the phenomenon on the Internet. What’s it like knowing that many adore you?
“I never imagined my eyebrows or facial expressions would get such a reception. I suppose I never watched myself when I spoke so I never knew my face did acrobatics.
“It so nice that people have taken to me. I feel so blessed!”
Would you ever visit Bangladesh to introduce baking in schools?
“I don’t know if an oven would fit into a country that is already a furnace!
“I would love to be able to take some of my skills and introduce them to family and people in and around my local village.”
Have you ever tried to make Bengali desserts such as Sandesh, Rasgulla, and Kalojam?
“I have attempted all of these recipes and it’s obvious that these skills are an art in themselves.
“I love the flavours and the different techniques each one teaches.
“But I do love taking traditional flavours and mixing them with classic British techniques.”
What is your favourite Desi dish?
“For me it has to Beef Bhuna with Roti Feeta on Eid Ul Adha.”
What is the first dish you ever learned to cook?
“One of the best dishes I have ever cooked has to be the Bengali Korma. It’s so simple, yet so aromatic and delicious. One of my mum’s classics.”
What’s it like being invited to big events such as Cake and Bake Show, Women of the Year, and MOBO awards?
“For someone who won a baking show, I never imagined I would be invited to any of the above.
“I feel incredibly honoured and privileged to be invited to share these amazing ceremonies with great people who have achieved so much.”
What’s next for Nadiya? What are you working on now?
“I don’t know what is next for me. I have so many exciting things in the pipeline.
“But my ethos is that whatever I do, whatever I am offered, I must enjoy every single day and live each experience to the full.”
Can fans expect your own cooking show in the near future?
“If ever I am lucky enough to have my own show, I would love to showcase some Bengali classic dishes, along with some of my own home cooking style and obviously an array of baking.
“All with my facial expressions and eyebrows in tow.”
Not only is Nadiya the winner of The Great British Bake Off, she is also an inspiration to British Asians across the nation.
She has showed people that she isn’t afraid of who she is and embraces her Desi identity openly.
Nadiya is adored for her magnificent bakes as well as her quirky and genuine personality.
DESIblitz are certain that this is only the beginning of a prosperous career for Nadiya!
Images courtesy of BBC, The Great British Bake Off, and Nadiya Hussain
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