Queensbury teacher Rahila Hussain is celebrating after becoming the champion of ITV’s Food Glorious Food.
Rahila’s winning dish, fragrant white chicken korma, inspired by her late mum’s recipe and a favourite dish from her childhood, is now on Marks & Spencer’s shelves across the UK.
Viewers of the show, presented by Carol Vorderman, learned how the 44-year-old did not have the exact recipe to follow as her mother never wrote it down. This led Rahila, a business studies and law teacher at Queensbury School, to explore her parents’ culinary heritage in their native Pakistan.
“We had that dish when we were children and you don’t think anything of it. It is just something your mum makes for you and when she passed away I was trying to trace it,” Rahila said. “My aunties remembered it but didn’t remember how mum went about making it.”
After perfecting the recipe, Rahila brought her dish to the table on Food Glorious Food – a show aimed at showcasing the skills of amateur cooks up and down the country.
Each week the judges – including food writer and author Tom Parker-Bowles, globe-trotting gastronome Lloyd Grossman, Women’s Institute vice-chair Anne Harrison and baker Stacie Stewart – travel the country handing out rosettes to the dishes that impressed their palates.
Rahila beat Star Bistro – set up by the National Star College for disabled students – who championed their Pimm’s summer jelly in the final. As well as having her dish sold in M&S, Rahila also clinched a £20,000 prize.
Rahila says she does not yet know what she will spend the money on, although she hopes to eventually produce a recipe book.
She says she was delighted to win the competition, which her students encouraged her to enter, and wishes her mum had been there to share her success. “I am just so proud because it is her values; she always believed home cooked food was the best,” says Rahila. “The taste, the flavour, that is what she was all about. I just wish she had been there at the final.”
Rahila, who has worked at the school for more than ten years, said they had been very supportive throughout the filming, some of which was done in the classroom when Tom Parker-Bowles, who championed her dish, popped by.
April Preston, M&S head of product development, said: “We’re so excited to sell Rahila’s winning dish.”
Some of the proceeds from the sale of Rahila’s dish will support the work of Great Ormond Street Hospital.