Nadiya’s American Adventure episode 1 – Louisiana: Nadiya Hussain has always been fascinated by America, home to more immigrants than any other country, and with some of the most vibrant food on the planet. She wants to find out more about this culinary melting pot, so sets out to explore two states she has always dreamt of visiting, Louisiana and California.
Nadiya’s Louisianan food adventure starts in New Orleans, whose strategic position at the mouth of the Mississippi Delta has attracted newcomers for centuries from as far as Europe, the Caribbean and more recently from Vietnam. Nadiya arrives on the first day of Mardi Gras, which is celebrated by feasting on one of Nadiya’s favourite things – cake. In a bakery in the colourful Bywater neighbourhood, Nadiya rolls up her sleeves and makes iconic and indulgent king cakes bursting with Chantilly cream, before joining a lively street party where jazz musicians play carnival tunes and the Mardi Gras Indians parade.
Next, Nadiya visits the Lower Ninth Ward, an African American neighbourhood that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. She meets local hero Bernell, who has spent his life savings opening the area’s own grocery store and soul food cafe, and learns how resilient residents are still having to fight to keep up with the rest of the city even after so many years. Nadiya helps Bernell’s mum Lily in the cafe before cooking up her twist on a New Orleans classic – a crispy fried chicken po boy sandwich.
Nadiya’s American Adventure episode 1 – Louisiana
As Nadiya embarks on the next leg of her journey, she swaps the vibrancy of the city for the fabled bayous and swamps of Cajun country. Cajuns settled in Louisiana in the 18th century after fleeing persecution in French-speaking Canada and are known for their delicious Cajun cooking. Some of the finest is to be found in a tiny restaurant in the shrimping town of Galliano run by legendary 93-year-old great-great-grandma Alzina Toups. Nadiya joins Alzina in her kitchen and learns the secrets of her shrimp and okra gumbo and her black bean jambalaya, age-old family recipes that have been handed down through the generations.
Curious to find out more about the Cajun lifestyle, Nadiya ventures deep into the eerie but beautiful swamps on a fishing trip with a family who still live off the land. Armed with fresh catfish, Nadiya cooks up a feast for the family before overnighting on a house on stilts. Out of her comfort zone, Nadiya worries that the swamp’s notorious alligators may pay her a nighttime visit.
Back in New Orleans, Nadiya heads to a charity that uses music and the tradition of marching bands as a unique way of keeping the city’s kids off the streets. She then immerses herself with a Vietnamese family of restaurateurs and discovers how these relative newcomers to the city are making a big splash on the city’s food scene. She ends her food adventure with an epic crayfish boil with a Vietnamese twist – a perfect example of the Louisianan culinary melting pot.
Nadiya’s American Adventure episode 1 recipes:
Peanut butter and jelly tiffin
Nadiya’s all-American-influenced take on a classic tiffin uses peanut butter and jelly. Actual jelly. Top with any sweets and biscuits you fancy.
- Line a 24cm x 24cm/9½ x 9½ in baking tin with baking paper.
- Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and melt the chocolate, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. When melted, stir in 200g/7oz of the peanut butter and all the grape jelly.
- Stir the digestives, cherries and salted peanuts into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the baking tin and level off. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Once set, carefully remove the tiffin from the baking tray and spread with the remaining peanut butter. Sprinkle with a little salt, then decorate with the assorted sweets and biscuits.
- Cut into squares and serve.
Fried chicken po’boy with salted cucumber and coconut sambal
Nadiya’s take on the Louisianan po’ boy uses fried chicken instead of the more traditional shrimp. Topped with fresh cucumber and spicy coconut sambal, they’re a taste sensation.
- To make the chicken, put the chicken in a bowl with the ginger, garlic, coconut milk water and lemon juice. Mix well to coat, cover and marinate for 10 minutes.
- Fill a deep-fat fryer or a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan two-thirds full with the oil. Heat to 180C (a cube of bread should turn brown in 1 minute when dropped in.) CAUTION: Hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.
- Mix the flour and Cajun seasoning together with a large pinch of salt in a shallow bowl. Add the drained chicken, tossing to coat well.
- Deep-fry the chicken in batches for 7 minutes, or until cooked through and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Mix the coconut milk cream with the hot sauce in a bowl and set aside.
- To make the sambal, put the ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined.
- To make the salted cucumber, mix the ingredients together and set aside for 5 minutes.
- And serve, cut the baguette into four pieces and halve each down the middle. Spread with the hot sauce mixture, top with the chicken and cucumber and sprinkle over the sambal.