Nadiya Hussain is putting family first with these comforting recipes that will have everyone round the dining table smiling.
Food is such a simple word. A simple four-lettered word that can evoke every human emotion possible. For me, food is all about home, and the family memories we make there, the things we eat as vivid in our minds as the moments and milestones that inspire them.
It’s the look on my sister’s candlelit, hand-over-mouth face as I walked into a darkened room with a sticky-sweet fondant covered cake that took five days to make. While I worried it may be dry on the inside, nobody else cared, because it was spectacular on the outside and was met with the type of reaction every celebration cake should warrant: excitement, shock, maybe even a little Oscar-worthy acting, the kind where she knew she’d be getting a cake but pretended she wasn’t expecting one, because that is what grown-ups do.
The sigh of satisfaction from my husband when I hand him a plate of wheat-crusted chicken at the end of a hard day clearing up the garage (a job he insists of doing on a weekly basis!). Showered, cleaned-up, lounge pants on, I sneak his dinner into our ‘flounge’ (the fun lounge), followed by cookie dough ice cream for afters, which always goes down a treat… ‘If you don’t tell the kids, then I won’t’. He eats, no words, just ‘mmms’ and ‘aaahs’, til he reaches his last morsels and says, ‘I could do that all over again,’ and yes, we’re still on the subject of food. For him, every tiny plate of something delicious takes him to a wonderful place. He doesn’t stay there long, but he knows he will be back again soon, since mealtime is always just around the corner.
The unsure face of my little man Moses (not so little any more!) back when he took his first mouthfuls of homemade ginger rice, as I came at him slowly with a neon plastic spoon and his eyes crossed til they could cross no more. That first taste of food as he wondered at the unfamiliar texture in his mouth. Nothing has changed. He still eats everything cautiously, inspecting the texture and flavours, but almost always ending in a smile, to be met by my proud mummy face, and his curiosity satisfied.
Food is not just the fuel that keeps us going, it isn’t just a tick box, done! Food is one of the many things we take for granted, and because it’s always been there, we assume it will never go away. Food has been my comfort many times. Somehow a cup of tea and a slice of cake really do make life’s troubles feel a little better, no matter how temporary the relief. Food gives us life, makes us smile, makes us weep, makes us feel emotions we did not think possible – and best of all, it helps us make memories.
Food is such a simple word. But those four letters underpin so much: my four walls, my roof, my radiators, my loves, my laughter. Food, for me, is home.