Nadiya Hussain was born and brought up in Britain but her family is from Bangladesh. In this first programme of two, she makes a surprise discovery about her DNA which sees her travel solo for the first time, exploring the people, places and food of Thailand and Cambodia. Nadiya’s search for connections in these countries takes her from the world-famous temples of Angkor Wat in the north of Cambodia and to a Muslim island in the deep south of Thailand.
She journeys deep into the waterways of the Tonle Sap, the biggest lake in south east Asia, to visit a floating community and make prahok, a fermented fish paste that’s Cambodia’s staple food. Nadiya uncovers a bakery school in Cambodia training up girls from tough backgrounds in the art of French patisserie to help them get jobs in tourist restaurants and hotels. In a grove of sugar palm trees, Nadiya assists a grandfather in the labour-intensive process of making the buttery, rich sugar that she’s taken for granted as a cooking ingredient all her life.
In Bangkok, one of Thailand’s top chefs inducts Nadiya into his 21st-century take on his country’s centuries-old tradition of eating insects. Together, they create crisps, Nadiya’s favourite snack, made from creepy crawlies. Leaving the bustle of Thailand’s capital behind, Nadiya heads east to Chanthaburi, a town famous for its noodles, on the trail of one the country’s best-known dishes to find out what makes a fantastic pad thai. Wanting to get more of a picture about where her ancestors might have come from, Nadiya ventures to the tiny island of Koh Sukhorn, and learns how to make a curry paste that’s unique to the Muslim community there from a women-only co-operative.
As her time in the Far East draws to a close, Nadiya reflects on the people, places and food of these countries that she has a DNA connection to, and how far she has come in managing to make such a lengthy foreign trip without any of her family.