Nadiya Hussain: 'My husband, Abdal, hates cooking! He could burn water!'

nadiya hussain
(Image credit: BBC/Hungry Gap Productions Ltd/D)

Bake Off champ Nadiya shares the recipes her family loves to eat in her new BBC series, Nadiya's Family Favourites, reveals her favourite ever comfort food and why she doesn't trust her husband in the kitchen!

Who can forget Nadiya Hussain’s rousing words when she was crowned winner of Bake Off in 2015? “I’m never gonna say I don’t think I can. I can and I will!”

She did and she has. Since lifting the trophy, (and leaving judge Mary Berry teary-eyed with emotion), the mum of three has hardly had time to pause. Not only has she presented numerous TV series, including The Chronicles of Nadiya and Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, but she’s written five books and has a weekly newspaper column.

Now in her new eight part series, which starts tonight, she’s showing us how to rustle up hassle-free food for every family occasion whether it’s cooking on a hectic school-night or catering for a spontaneous weekend get together.

"Everyone has such busy lives. Cooking can feel time-consuming, monotonous or expensive but it doesn’t have to be", she beams with her familiar wide smile. "These are meals that my family love to eat and when I say they’re not hard, they’re really not hard."

When TV Times met up with the busy 33-year old at BBC HQ in London, she was as bubbly and joyful as she is on our screens, chatting excitedly about her favourite mouth-watering treats including samosa pie and crispy roast chicken, which was no mean feat given that it was Ramadan and she was in the middle of fasting.

Here Nadiya Hussain talks to TV Times about Nadiya's Family Favourites

TV Times: How involved were your own family in choosing some of the favourites you show us in this series?

Nadiya Hussain: "They were very much involved. This is the stuff we love to eat together. You see me make a samosa pie which is perfect for taking on picnics or days out. I’ve made about 60 since last year, the kids keep begging me to make another one."

nadiya hussain

Nadiya with her husband Abdal and their three children (C) BBC - Photographer: BBC (Image credit: BBC)

TVT: Do they enjoy cooking with you?

NH: " My eldest, Musa, 11, loves helping out and even likes peeling garlic, which is the job I hate. My 10-year-old, Dawud, enjoys food but would rather spend his time playing video games and my little girl, Maryam, 7, loves baking. She makes cupcakes and can do a Victoria Sponge all by herself. She knows where the mixer is. My husband, Abdal, hates cooking! He could burn water! I’ve tried teaching him but I think he feels under pressure. I tell him off because he’ll be chopping an onion and can see that something is burning right next to him. He say he can’t do two things at once but it could all be an excuse, he could secretly be a really excellent cook!"

TVT: You have different themes for each week including Manic Weekdays, Hustle and Bustle. Tell us about that…

NH: "The series is about situations we all face in day-to-day life. We all have stressful busy days when we feel like there’s no food in the house. We get bogged down and think we haven’t got time to cook but actually we can. I’m hopeful that when people watch the show they’ll go, ‘Ah, that’s so simple, I didn’t think of that, I’m going to try it.’"

TVT: Will we see much of your Bangladeshi heritage coming out in the recipes you use?

NH: "Absolutely. I want to celebrate that and I dip in and out of that throughout the series. When I was child all I wanted to be was be like the British people I saw on the television. I remember going to school, and my mum would have made me sardine sandwiches for my packed lunch. You think, ‘Oh my God, everyone else has got cheese and I’ve got these stinky sardines. They’re all looking at me.’ In fact, I bet everyone would have loved those sardine sandwiches if they’d traded with me. Now as an adult, I can appreciate my heritage and celebrate it."

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(C) BBC - Photographer: BBC (Image credit: BBC)

TVT: As well as cooking up your own recipes in the show you also meet fellow foodies don’t you?

NH: "Yes, I meet people who are really passionate about the things they make. There’s a wonderful lady who is 102- years old and makes marmalade and another who is a champion Cornish pasty maker. I meet an amazing guy who is passionate about olive oil and knows everything there is to know about it. As a cook I always want to learn new things."

TVT: Are you a fan of using up leftovers?

NH: "Completely. When it comes to food, these days there’s a lot of instant gratification but I don’t want my kids thinking it’s ok just to throw food away. I’ll always use up things like chicken skin. I season it up, throw it in the oven until it’s really crispy. My kids love it. My husband is a human dustbin so we don’t have that many leftovers but he runs 7.5 miles a day so he can eat what he wants!"

TVT: Have you splashed out on any fancy kitchen gadgets since becoming so successful?

NH: "Nothing fancy. I got a boiling water tap. I love that thing! I was really scared at first that my kids would burn their hands but it’s very safe. My 11 year-old uses it to make the tea…someone’s got to make the tea! This series is filmed in a lovely kitchen but it’s not mine, ours isn’t big enough."

TVT: Do you like watching other people’s cookery shows?

NH: "Absolutely, I especially like watching old re-runs of series on Dave and the Food Network channels. I like watching Mary Berry’s older stuff but now I know what goes into making a cookery show I watch them very differently. I can’t help thinking, ‘Ooh, why have they done that?’ I have to tell myself, ‘You’re not making this, just watch it and enjoy!’"

TVT: Since you won Bake Off your life has been a whirlwind. Is it hard to balance family life with work commitments?

NH: "I’d be lying if I said it was easy. Every year I say I’m going to be less busy but I seem to get even busier. I couldn’t have done it without my husband’s support. It’s taken us three years but we’ve definitely got some kind of balance now. I love what I do and I’m so lucky to be able to share that with people."

TVT: One of the themes is People To Stay. How can we avoid having a catering meltdown?

NH: "It’s all in the planning. When you’re having people over you don’t want to be the person who’s in the kitchen all the time, so it’s all about the pre-prep, it’s about sticking things in the freezer and then taking them out at the last minute. You want to look after people and feed them well but you don’t have to have to go mad. Food can be quick and delicious at the same time."

TVT: Are you still in touch with your fellow Bake Off contestants like Sandy, Tamal, Paul and Flora?

NH: "Yes, everyone has been really busy since doing the show and it’s hard to all get together but we manage it in bits. If I’m in London I’ll say, ‘Are you around?’, we meet up where we can. We’re all on Whatsapp group, called Bakers Dozen, so we chat on that."

TVT: Did you watch last year’s Bake Off when it moved to Channel 4?

NH: "Yes, I recorded it and watched it. It feels like the exactly the same show but I think Sandi and Noel bring something fresh and different to it which is really nice to see."

Nadiya's Family Favourites begins on BBC2 tonight at 8.00pm.  



Tess Lamacraft
Senior Writer for What's On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite week,

Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.