by Rachel Ogbu//
Nigerian-British Lopè Ariyo, is a food blogger, self-taught cook, a recipe developer and now an author – after recently publishing her debut book Hibiscus. Hibiscus is a book filled with recipes of Nigerian dishes by a self-described modern Nigerian cook. There are different chapters from fruits, vegetables & tubers to grains & pulses; meat & poultry and baking & desserts showing readers how to create fuss-free meals that are full of flavour.
Lopè Ariyo who was named 2017 The Observer’s Rising Star in Food creates quite adventurous meals like Hibiscus Chicken, Baked Kuli Kuli Cod with Cayenne Yam Chips, Plantain Mash with Ginger, Corn and Okra Gravy; and Nigerian Roast Veg. The 23-year-old focuses on a contemporary approach by combining African flavours with cosmopolitan-style cooking practices.
She recently held her book launch in London, where she spoke about how she started cooking. “I don’t think I would have had the same inspiration if I had not gone to Nigeria,” she told The Voice after revealing she stayed in Nigerian for two years while in boarding school. “I am the kind of person that gets very bored eating the same dish. At maximum, I can only have the same thing twice.” She began writing her own recipes at age 16. “I would look up recipes online and see how I could adjust them. At that time I wouldn’t call it recipe writing – I was making things into my own.”
Ariyo graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Loughborough University but at university, she still enjoyed cooking and took part in a cookery competition organised by Red Magazine and Harper Collins where she blew away the judges with her unique style and take on Nigerian food. She went on to win the competition landing herself a cookbook deal with Harper Collins and a 5-page spread with Red Magazine featuring her recipes.
“I want my cookbook to be a gateway to West African food. For people who are not brave enough to experiment different cuisines, once they see ingredients they are familiar with they are more likely to taste. And I am happy to be that stepping stone. I want typical spices that are not seen as ‘Nigerian’ to be used in Nigerian food and create something with even more va-va-voom,” she says.
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