Between shifts on the ward, stints in the kitchen and playdates with her son, Saliha Mahmood Ahmed is a force to be reckoned with. Since being crowned BBC’s Masterchef champion in 2017, life for the NHS junior doctor has been anything but quiet! With countless appearances at food festivals across the summer and her debut book ‘Khazana’, a treasure trove of Indo-Persian recipes inspired by the Mughals, now available to buy, Saliha’s talent for taking the traditional and laying it on a plate with a culinary twist has set her in great stead.
With a dream to pursue her career as a doctor and combine her passion for gastronomy, Saliha would love to drive the country towards healthier meals – and work on national campaigns to tackle obesity, particularly in children.
Taking to the table, we grab five with Saliha to explore her culinary past and flavoursome future and where she heads for Parisian breakfasts, Bombay bites and which museum cafe is a must-visit with her family…
1. I’d like a table for…
Aashir my little one, my husband Usman and myself please.
2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market – great open plan sitting areas to get the mini push chair through and my little one loves the jam and croissants they serve.
3. Best brunch with kids?
It has to be home cooked brunch not eat out for me – we love smashed avocado on toast wit loads of coriander and lemon topped with a poached egg and chilli flakes (and yes, even the little one likes them).
4. Children’s menu must-visits…
I’m particularly impressed by the children’s menu at the Giraffe World Kitchen, great variety for children and perfect portion size. I bit more interesting than the standard nuggets and chips and nice to get the kids interested in global cuisine from a young age. My son loves the quesadilla and katsu chicken they serve.
5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
A quick booking in Dishoom restaurant Shoreditch for group lunches is my absolute favourite. Great flavours and super fast service every single time!
6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
The British Museum cafe is a great shout- after keeping the little one busy in the museum you can get them a free meal when you buy a meal for yourself. Plus all that museum walking makes me very very hungry.
7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
Be patient and keep trying. The first few experiences can be quite traumatic for the parents, but you can teach your children how to dine out with a bit of persistence.
8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
Take me out any day of the week please! ideally local though because its always nice to not have to travel too far when you have to get back to the little one.
9. My earliest food memory…
My grandmother stewing cooking apples to make apple curry for the family.
10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
It’s hard to say… probably a few of my close childhood friends and some work friends who deserve a lunch party now and then given how hard they work in the NHS balancing being doctors and mums.