It’s not every day you get commissioned by Buckingham Palace to bake a birthday cake for the Queen.
Yet for Nadiya Hussain, season six champion of The Great British Bake Off, the royal charge came her way just last spring. Sweet success, much like the orange drizzle layer cake she was putting together for Her Majesty, was quickly stacking up.
The self-taught British-Bengali baker is also an author and media personality in her native England and an advocate for sanitation and hygiene for NGO, WaterAid.
Last spring, BBC One tapped freelance filmmaker Martha Delap and her crew to produce a food and travel show starring Ms Hussain as she narrates her culinary and ancestral voyage through Bangladesh. The debut one-hour episode of the two-part series, The Chronicles of Nadiya, airs Wednesday August 24th. Part two hits screens the following week.
Whereas the first episode follows Ms Hussain’s exploration of family roots in Sylhet, part two of the series sees Thrive’s Sadia Moyeen and Amna Rahman partner with the itinerant celebrity baker (who takes a keen interest in children’s health and nutrition) to create special shingara snacks for students at Jaago Foundation’s school in Dhaka’s Korail slum.
A shingara, a pyramidal pastry stuffed with savory veggies and potato, is arguably the most popular bite in Bangladesh and one of the mainstays of Thrive’s school lunch program. The program aims to feed hungry children in Dhaka’s slum schools.
Sadia Moyeen explains: “It was such a fun experience for me and Amna to work with Nadiya. We used my son’s family’s kitchen to prepare the shingaras. Nadiya insisted we work in a home kitchen as opposed to a commercial one. [My son] and daughter-in-law had heard about Nadiya’s successes and are also avid foodies. So of course we were all very excited to have got the chance to be part of this.”
“To make the special shingara,” Sadia continues, “Nadiya replaced the pastry’s usual savory potato filling with sweet coconut. We had high hopes that it would turn out to be a pleasant surprise and big hit with the students.”
After a batch of samples aced the taste test, it was time to head to Jaago’s school in Korail and deliver the freshly made shingaras along with Thrive’s other nutritious lunch staples that typically include eggs, peanuts, fruit, vegetables and milk.
“When we arrived at Korail the production crew caused quite a sensation,” Sadia recalls. “It’s possible the locals and students didn’t know who Nadiya was or why we were there with all the cameras and lights, but we certainly attracted plenty of attention regardless!”
And the shingara?
“You’ll have to wait for the show!” Sadia smiles.
Considering Ms Hussain had recently added a royal cake bake to her growing list of credentials, it’s probably safe to assume the shingaras were a big hit.
For more info about The Chronicles of Nadiya check out the episode guide, trailer, and more at BBC One: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07r272z/episodes/guide