Creating Food Content as an African in Dubai, with Roseanne Orim from @chopbellehfull
From vibrant strawberry mojito donuts to West-African-inspired Beef Mafe Tacos, this is THE blog to follow for diverse and delicious food pics! Roseanne Orim, also known as @chopbellehfull on Instagram, is a multifarious content creator, who covers everything from food styling to recipe development.
Hailing from Dubai, but also influenced by Nigerian and Ghanaian cuisine, Roseanne thrills her followers with bright and deliciously detailed foodie pics that are the perfect fusion of cuisines from all over the globe. As one of our earliest active #MyJikoni community members, we sat down with her to crack the code on some of her most delectable posts on the platform.
What encouraged you to start creating food content?
From a very young age, growing up in an African household, it was expected of me as a woman to learn how to cook. I didn’t like it then because it was more like an obligation, but learning how to cook gave me the confidence to grow in the kitchen and start cooking by myself, whipping up things with what I could find at home. My mom also inspired that, because on the maternal side of my family, my mom and my cousins have always been in the catering business, and her mom was also involved in a lot of cooking. So I feel like somewhere in my genes it’s a thing – growing up in my family, and just the general love for food everyone had, has been my inspiration.
I was really miserable working in finance. It’s not a bad industry, but it wasn’t for me. My heart wasn’t in it, and I wasn’t good at it. I always knew I was a creative person, and food photography and recipe development became that bridge to link my interests. Because it was natural for me in the sense that I knew I could be good at it, I didn’t mind those nights where I was up till 3am cooking and testing recipes.
How long have you been interested in sharing your food journey online?
For at least the last 5 years or more! I want to write a travel cookbook. I want to do a recipe book based on recipes inspired by West African cuisine, but I also want to include lifestyle photography from the trips I go on within West Africa; speaking to the women whose recipes are in the book, taking photos, and capturing the history behind the dishes.
I want to create recipes in a way that someone in Iceland could pick up my book and just make them. A large limitation with West African food is access to the ingredients, so I want to do it in a way where you don’t strip the recipe of the original taste, but you can still substitute with ingredients that are hard to access in other regions.
How would you describe your culinary identity?
It is definitely West African influenced, with a touch of various other cuisines – I have a fusion of things. Living in a place like Dubai, and when I lived in the UK for a very long time, those places have influenced the way I cook and what I like to eat. Just today, I made this South Indian Kerala Curry that I had with paratha, and a decade ago that wasn’t something I would’ve eaten, just because I didn’t know about it at the time. I love experimenting with different cuisines from different places!
How does your family record their recipes?
I have a paper recipe book where I write down recipes, and I record my recipes on my blog – I see my blog as a journal for my recipes, or an online database.
But it isn’t common in my family to record recipes – I’m the first person in my family that has had a food blog. Even getting recipes from my mom is something I’ve only recently started doing, because I’ll want to cook a Nigerian dish here in Dubai, and I’ll have to ask her to send it to me. There’s no system, no cookbook, and it’s all word of mouth, but I want to change that, to preserve what my mom knows.
I learned mainly through watching and being taught verbally, with no instructions, and no measurements. I never grew up using cups or anything like that. In Nigeria, people often use the tin of an evaporated milk can as a measurement for cups. So if you go to the market to buy something like rice, the women there will have big piles of rice and they’ll use the tin to measure it out, scoop it into a bag, and give it to you.
What is your #1 tip for people wanting to start creating food content?
You should just share what you like! Don’t create something because it’s trendy, share what you enjoy eating. It has to come from within, and be authentic to you. Share what you enjoy eating, what you like, and don’t just hop on a viral trend, because when you share something that is unique, people will take notice of that!
Want to know more about fusion recipes from the African diaspora? Check out Roseanne’s recipe for ginger & cardamom-spiced chin chin, and tag us with #MyJikoni if you try it out!