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5 minutes with Nadiya Hussain

by Rachel Deeley

published on 12 September 2023

Nadiya Hussain rose to fame in 2015, when she won The Great British Bake Off with her brilliantly inventive signature bakes and showstoppers. She’s since gone on to publish an array of bestselling books and present cooking shows covering everything from everyday baking to family-friendly meals. Her upcoming cookbook and accompanying BBC Two series, Nadiya’s Simple Spices, is full of delicious yet simple recipes – both sweet and savoury – that incorporate eight readily available spices: cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, chilli, bay leaves, and curry powder.

We caught up with Nadiya to learn more about her approach to cooking with spice, the one kitchen tool she can’t live without, and which chef is her biggest inspiration.

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How would you sum up your latest cookbook, Nadiya’s Simple Spices

This book is all about showing people who love to cook and people who want to cook, that spices don’t have to be complicated. With just 8 spices, you can make everything in this book. You can make breakfasts, lunches, dinner, dessert, and snacks. 

If you had to pick, which is your favourite recipe from the book?

I love all the recipes, but I love the crispy leek biryani, love the stewed pineapples, and I adore the beef lemon balti. 

What advice would you give to someone trying to incorporate more spice into their cooking, especially if they’re cooking for children? 

Start with whole spices. Spices don’t necessarily always mean heat, unless you are using a chilli-based spice. Whole spices allow you to impart a subtle flavour, which is perfect for small children. 

What’s one kitchen gadget and one ingredient you can’t live without?

I cannot live without my knives in the kitchen, a decent knife is all you need to be able to chop and prepare most things. The spice I cannot be without is cinnamon, it is the most versatile, it can be used in sweet and savoury cooking. 

If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would they be and what would you cook for them? 

I would cook for my grandad, who I very much loved, and he died before I learnt to cook. I would also cook for Robin Williams and Rosa Parks. 

And finally, which chef is your biggest source of inspiration?

I feel inspired by so many people, but I adore Asma Khan, not just for her cooking but also for her constant and consistent fight for women.

Nadiya’s Simple Spices airs on BBC Two this September.

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