By LAUREN CODLING
THE Asian family who were crowned winners of the BBC’s Family Cooking Showdown have revealed their experiences during the popular show.
The Mistry family from Croydon, south London, won the Chopping Board trophy in this year’s edition of the programme earlier this month.
Husband and wife Mitesh and Prachi, both 32, alongside their nephew Anup Mistry, 26, aimed to showcase authentic regional Indian cuisine to a British audience.
The family created a variety of dishes with twists on Indian and Western classics, including Indian-style fishcakes.
In the final, each family had to cook a three-course meal. After being judged by Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks and former Celebrity Master Chef victor Angellica Bell, the Mistrys were announced as the champions.
Describing the win as “surreal,” Prachi told Eastern Eye the family were half expecting to go home earlier in the competition.
“There were so many families and they were all so good, so we never thought we would win,” she said. “Every day we just wanted to do our best.”
As they continued through the reality TV show, Prachi said the trio did not feel any pressure.
In each episode, competitors were told to practice at home and then were surprised with a secret task, which would test their ability to work as a team. By being able to work at home, it became more of a fun process.
“Me and my husband cook a lot together already,” Prachi said. “So it felt more like a family activity.”
It was Prachi who applied for the show, having watched a previous series.
However, initially, Anup was not part of the team. It was supposed to be Mitesh’s father, but he had to drop out because of an illness in the family.
“Anup came into the team last minute,” Prachi revealed.
Talking about her passion for cooking, Prachi said her enjoyment came from knowing exactly what ingredients were going into her food. She added that the concept of families
cooking and eating together means the younger generation can appreciate the hard work that goes into it.
Cooking was not just about getting food ready to eat, Prachi explained, it was about creating it too.
“As I am originally from India, the cold weather can be quite depressing in the UK,” she said. “I like to cook a lot during the winter, so I am able to do something creative if I am not as likely to go outside in the bad weather.”
Having moved to the UK four and a half years ago, Prachi acknowledges there is a difference between the Indian cuisine in both countries.
She believes many people in the UK just assume Indian food is curry – oily and all meat-based. When Prachi was growing up in Mumbai, vegetables were always a component of meals.
“When my mum used to cook, if there was one chicken dish, there would always be two vegetables dishes on the side,” she recalled. “I think people have [misconceptions] about it.”
Although the pair do not have culinary-based jobs – Prachi works in marketing and Mitesh is an IT consultant – they hope to engage with cookery as a hobby. The couple have now
launched a cookery website which they hope to build on. It will include their own recipes, as well as tips for any aspiring foodies.
“But the whole intention is to share our recipes rather than start a business,” she added.
Looking back on their television experience, Prachi has fond memories from the show. It is something the family will always cherish, she said.
“We were so happy [when we were announced as the winners],” she said.
“We can all be proud of ourselves.”