By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain has told how cooking helped her family deal with the death of her sister-in-law.
Hussain, 37, who went on to host a range of TV programmes after winning the baking show in 2015, told her Instagram following in June about the death of her sister-in-law Ramana from cancer at the age of 34.
Ramana left behind her husband Akmoul, brother of Hussain’s husband Abdal, and their two children.
Hussain told Radio Times: “In difficult, dark moments like that it is really tough to function normally.
“It’s the first time I’ve experienced a loss so close to my family and it’s going to affect us for ever. But what I did notice was that, even in death, food becomes central.
“It’s the thing that brings everyone together. We were having to accommodate her family, making sure they were fed and looked after.
“And that was all (through) food. It was, ‘Let’s cook. Let’s make them things that they enjoy.’
“It was all food-centred. It put a smile on people’s faces (and) gave them sustenance.”
In May, Hussain posted a video telling her Instagram followers that her family was having a “tough time” before announcing the death in late June.
In the video, the mother of three said: “It’s been a difficult, sad time for our family, we have had a huge loss in our family which we were expecting but nothing really prepares you for that.
“Nothing really prepares you for death even though it is inevitable. We lost our sister-in-law who was 34 and it has been a really tough time for our family all around, my brother-in-law and their kids, and just my family as a whole.
“He has been an absolute inspiration, his wife right up until the end was the strongest person I know and she has taught us so much and that’s why we have not been around because we have been focusing on our family and being there for each other.”
Hussain has presented shows including the documentary The Chronicles Of Nadiya as well as the TV cookery series Nadiya’s British Food Adventure and Nadiya’s Family Favourites.
She was also a judge on Junior Bake Off and has featured on BBC One’s The One Show and Saturday Kitchen.