Spicing Up The Bake Off
It’s that time again when so many of us feel over come with Great British Bake Off fever. The TV show is already well underway and we are getting to the stage when the contestants have been whittled down to the crème de la crème (pâtissière or brûlée, you decide). And, as just demonstrated, with the Bake Off comes a wave of saucy puns and dodgy innuendos. Cue thementions of soggy bottoms (which is less prolific this series), massive spotted dicks and the taste of nuts – we could go on… Our Thursday mornings are filled with discussions about the highs, the lows and the extreme drama – ‘bingate’ created a virtual (and literal) meltdown – of the night before.
We love all of this year’s bakers, but the one contestant who has really caught our eye this year is ChetnaMakanwith her wonderful fusion of East meets West cuisine. This mum of two was born in India and grew up in Jabalpur in the state of Madhya Pradesh.She spent her childhood baking cakes for various celebrations and parties with her mum before moving to Mumbai totrain as a fashion designer. It was here that she met her husband Gaurav and worked as a fashion designer for a few years before moving to Broadstairs in Kent in 2003.
Chetna used baking as a way to immerse herself in life in the UK, but it was after having her children – Sia, six and Yuv, four -that her passion for baking really intensified. When she’s not baking up a storm with Paul, Mary, Mel, Sue and her fellow bakers, she can be found baking at home for friends and family and running a weekly curry club.
So far in the series, Chetna has wowed the judges and us at home with some beautifully baked dishes which are influenced by her mum’s traditional recipes and flavors. There’s been the cardamom, pistachio and coffee swiss roll (delish), her mum’s fenugreek and carom seed crackers (divine) and a baked Alaska flavored with cardamom and mangoes (yum, yum, yum).
However, it was in episode fivethat Chetna really sent our taste buds into overdrive with her Indian hot-water crust pies. Her multi-tiered pork-free pies used four types of pastry and were filled with four different mixtures. Starting from the bottom she used south Indian potatoes, followed by Kadhai chicken, moving up to chickpeas and finishing with an onion paneer pie sitting proud and pretty at the top.
Hailed as the ‘flavour queen’ by judge Paul Hollywood, we are keeping our fingers and toes crossed that Chetna will keep up the good work and keep impressing the judges as much as she is impressing us. Hopefully, she will also inspire more of us to be more experimental with Indian flavours in the kitchen. There are many ways to enjoy a deliciously baked, cooked, fried or roasted dish with its roots placed firmly in India. Enjoy them at home or in one of London’s premier fine-dining restaurants – the choice is yours.