Community Cook- Ary and Balado Cassava

Ary grew up in a small town called Pekalongan in Central Java, Indonesia, where local food and farming is a huge and important part of life. She was living with her family when she ended up meeting a young American man, Ben and moving to live with him in East Java. That was 22 years ago, and after some time living in Bali, Seattle and Yogjakarta and 3 children later they came to settle in Darwin.

Ary has a love of plants and has been learning about native landscapes and conservation at a training program for migrant women, through Greening Australia. Part of this program also encourages the sharing of stories and connection through the love of plants and food. Ary loves Darwin and the good Tropical weather, the local produce that is easily grown, the markets and the diverse but inclusive community feeling. She also love that is not so far from Indonesia but has a lot less traffic and people.


Ary cooked this wonderful cassava dish to share at a local food lunch. She loves this dish as it reminds her of home, and often makes it for special occasions. Every two weeks when there are particular muslim gatherings for women and children (“Majlis Taklim Shasisoma” = Bahasa for knowledge sharing), these are either at the Darwin Mosque or at community members houses; food is shared and she always asked to make this dish as it is a favorite among her friends.


This dish can be easily made from leaves grown in the backyard, so it is inexpensive, You can then buy turkey mince, tempee or tofu mince to add to it. The cassava leaves need to be fresh and young.

IMG_3954 (2)




Young cassava leaves- enough to be about 600g when boiled and squeezed dry.

300-500  g Turkey mince/ Tofu mince or tempe

1 can Coconut cream

2- 3 sticks of lemongrass- cut and smashed

1 Onion

3 Cloves of Garlic

7 Red long chilies (medium)

2-3 tomatoes

1 Cube veggie stock

Oil (coconut or rice bran)


Clean the leaves really well- boil in a pan of water for about 10 minutes, cool,  squeeze, and then cut when cold into slices.

Chop and Fry the onion and garlic and then the chili, add in tomatoes, then the tofu or turkey mince or tempe, fry for 10 minutes (until browned and cooked through)

Now add veggie stock cube (not in water)

Add in the smashed up lemongrass

Now add in the chopped up leaves and stir

Add in the coconut milk, stir a little more and cook for 15 minutes more.

Now serve in bowl and enjoy with rice and friends.



Choppe spinach

If you know a community cook in Darwin who would like to share their recipe, GULP NT can organise a gathering with their small team. $100 plus ingredients can be offered to the participating cook for hosting and sharing. Get in touch today and share your stories and food love. | gulpcommunity@gmail. com

The Community Cooks project and story write ups  have been made possible by City of Darwin community grants.



Community Cook- Karunika’s Sri Lankan Pawpaw Curry


Community Cook- A Taste Of Sri Lanka

Karunikaand curry

Darwin community cook, Karunika creates fantastic curries with all the care and attention and wisdom that has been passed on for many generations within her family and certainly as is customary throughout Sri Lanka. She migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka in 2009 and is delighted to share her knowledge with others. Her heritage defines all women as doctors as traditional medicine foods are at least 5,000 years old and cooking for the family entails taking into account their ages and health needs. There are 2000 plants used for food and medicine in Sri Lanka and in the past there were 2000 varieties of rice alone! Rice and other plants can still be fed by an ancient complex irrigation system consisting of reservoirs fed by rain.


Karunika feels at home in tropical Darwin and embraces the tropical lifestyle with its unique blend of cultures and cuisines. She advocates eating preferably locally grown produce which is best practice for health. It was exciting for her to find familiar fruits and vegetables like cassava, jack fruit, bananas, okra, coconut, fresh chilli and of course spices like turmeric, ginger, coriander, fennel and many more. Her advice is not to overuse spices in terms of quantities in a dish. She has offered cooking classes and even had a stall of traditional Sri Lankan food lovingly prepared at 3am to ensure freshness at the Rapid Creek markets. Her interests also extend to Indigenous bush foods and she enriches her knowledge through field trips with local people.


What a pleasure to watch Karunika prepare two varieties of papaya curry. Preparation, she said, is like meditation as you use patience and love! The meal served with rice was fragrant and delicious and shared with GULP members in the edible garden of Karunika’s home.


Papayas are so easy to grow in the Top End region if you have a little room in the garden (Male and female plants needed or bisexual plants) or they are widely available at local markets all year round.


Sri Lankan Papaya Curry




1kg half ripe papaya

I onion

1-2 green chillies

3 sprigs curry leaves

1 pandan leaf

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp tumeric powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder or paprika

2 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder ( coriander 100gms, cumin 50gms, fennel 25 gms )

3 cloves garlic

2 tbsp ground mustard seeds

1tsp ground black pepper

Pinch roasted curry powder garnish ( optional)

1 and 1/2 cups thick coconut milk ( can adjust)

Salt ( preferably Himalayan)

Water 1 and 1/2 cups




  1. Peel papaya and cut into chunks. Slice onion, chop chillies.
  2. Add all ingredients except coconut milk into a pan. Mix together and cook for 8-10 minutes until papaya becomes soft. Do not overcook.
  3. Add coconut milk. Mix gently while cooking for another 5-8 minutes.
  4. Add salt and serve with rice


karunikaand Em

Below is an extra Green Pawpaw recipe (seen held by Emma on the left)

Green Papaya Curry


1 green papaya

 Mellum mix


3 cloves garlic

1 cup freshly grated coconut

4 sprigs curry leaves (remove stems)

1 green chilli

1 tsp tumeric

Pinch salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup water




  1. Peel papaya, slice lengthways then into thin, small pieces and place into pan
  2. Add water and bring to the boil
  3. Blend Mellum mix in processor. Add to papaya
  4. Simmer until papaya’s tender


Bitter Green Salad


Finely slice ‘dark leaf’ – Aguna Kola. Add a sliced red onion and a handful of freshly grated coconut then squeeze half a lemon or lime as dressing.


This community cook recipe is made possible by City of Darwin Environment Grant. If you know a community cook in Darwin that uses local produce and would like to share their story, please email

$100 is available for the cook, plus ingredients to show our small team at a gathering.

A Story of the Stars

We featured this story in Off The Leash’s “Community Cooks”

The Recipe is also available in the “Eat My Words” community cook book.

Ben is a wonderful Bininji man from Murdudjurl country, growing up on his homeland which is now Kakadu. After some years living in Darwin and beyond Ben is back on country and has cofounded “Kakadu Kitchen”, a business that promotes indigenous food with a modern twist. Ben’s first memories of food were collecting bush tucker and eating fruit from trees grown on his farm. One tree that was planted on his farm was a star fruit tree that was gifted to his family from a Greek family in Darwin. This tree represents a connection to Darwin and last year created a dish to tell this story of friendship and connections as well as the story of a connection to country.


The dish is a Greek inspired fruit salad and includes symbolism of indigenous stories, sitting under the stars (star fruit) by the campfire (red capsicum). The dish was created for the GULP story telling event “Eat my Words” and appears in the cookbook featuring community cooks. If you would like to get involved or find out more recipes and stories please email us at



For more information about Kakadu Kitchen

Star fuzz



Greek inspired Star fruit salad 

2 ripe but firm (and sweet) local star fruits

1 cucumber

1 capsicum

½ red onion

A small bunch of mint

150 g Danish feta (optional)



2 Teaspoons of Olive oil

One teaspoon of cider vinegar

Juice of one local lemon

One teaspoon of local honey

One small chili, chopped

One clove of garlic- crushed

A pinch of salt



  •  Cut the star fruit thinly, if there are any brown lines at the edges than you also cut these off. Sett aside
  • Cut the cucumbers into thin slices, cross ways. Set aside
  • Cut the capsicums into small thin rounds and then into quarters, set aside.
  • Cut the red onion into vey small rings.
  • If you are going to put salad in choose a fairly firm and less strong in flavour such as Danish feta. Cut this into small cubes or crumble and set aside.
  • Next make the dressing
  •  Cut the lemon, and squeeze the juice into a jug or container.
  • Measure out the cider vinegar, the olive oil and honey and mix into the lemon juice.
  •  Dice the chilies very really small, cut the garlic very very small. Add them into the dressings and salt to taste
  •  Tear the leaves of the mint up for garnish.
  •  IN a dish, bowl or serving dish gently put the cut salad ingredients, laying out the star fruit over the mixed local greens, the capsicum can be placed in the sliced starfruit, or evenly over the platter, and the feta crumbled over the top. Pour over the dressing and garnish with the mint.


About Starfruit

Star fruit

Starfruit (Averrhoa carambola) is a wonderful tree, also know as Carambola. It is a really pretty medium tree with weeping branches and beautiful pink flowers which grows well in the Darwin region. Its origins are thought to be from Indonesia and it has five ridges, which when cut into slices make star shapes. The fruit is sweet and crisp, juicy with a hint of sour- a unique taste, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. This fruit makes a wonderful addition for taste and asthetics to many sweet and savory salads and also is fantastic garnish for deserts and savory dishes alike (one of my favourites!)


Eat my Words- Tastes and Tales of Territory Cooks

Hidden right in the middle of The Mulch Pit Community Garden over 60 attendees enjoyed a sit down meal under the stars, and were served 5 courses, by volunteers and people who had chosen to get involved with the innovative ticketing system. The tables were decorated with local flowers, provided by a lovely participant and decorated with jars and op shop finds and the whole event was surrounded by many of the plants appearing on the plates.

The settingsThere was an adjacent “chill out area” reminiscent of a Moroccan tent, adorned with fairy lights and lanterns, mats and cushions, but actually under 2 hills hoists covered in passionfruit vine.


The  5 dishes were created by local cooks, using local ingredients and accompanied by the creator’s story of their journey to Darwin or being from Darwin and connection to this place, to these people, to our produce, to here and now; the dishes were served to everyone with a heart felt story about why they were chosen by their creators. Yo Bell from Story projects helped the community cooks construct their stories and deliver them on the night.

This is not the first time GULP NT has run story telling and food events to inspire the Darwin community to embrace local produce, but the first time it has been the focus at a sit down meal. Some of the cooks have been involved before in either radio stories about cooking or at the community cooking stage at the Tropical Garden Spectacular, at the Local Roots festival or Banana Festival, or are familiar with the project so had personal connections and a love of local food.

Most of all we love to be involved in connecting community and connecting to our wonderful Top End produce and this is a wonderful way to bring people together.


The idea behind the event was to create a magical atmosphere to connect community, to connect people to their food and to encourage everyone to embrace growing and using local produce (GULP!) all held together by story telling; with the added bonus that those coming could become more involved and pay less or even pay more- with the mid ticket at an affordable price.


There was lots of preparation of the ingredients involved, lots of foraging, market shopping and coming together, there were menu preparations and story telling mentoring and there are many many people to thank- but we will do a little behind the scenes post separately!


So all those attending were welcomed to the space and to this place and blessed with the original food story, one of Larrakia legend, Leslie Gordon. The story was so much more than a ‘Welcome to Country” but a personal story of growing up in Darwin in the surrounds, spending time with family hunting and going bush for food, particularly on show day and learning to see yams with her siblings.

Leslie Bush Tucker 2

Leslie not only shared her story, but also Bush Tucker fruits (Syzygium fibrosum and Terminalia ferdiandiana) and “Long Bums”- a wild collected seafood that was cooked on the fire. It was so lovely to see Leslie in her element who has a connection to the GULP team, working in kitchen gardens years ago with Emma and now expanding her work re-connecting children (indigenous and others) to native foods.
After this wonderful welcome guests were offered a tour of the garden by long standing volunteers Lucy and Lia and some roasted green pawpaw to try, before sitting at the tables nestled in the garden.
Everyone was asked to then exchange the gifts and stories that they were encouraged to bring along to offer to people they hadn’t met. We witnessed some wonderful exchanges, including beautiful stories, sour dough starters, plants, jams and chutneys. This excersize hoped to bring out the stories that we all have within us that reflect our love of food, plants and sharing with others.
The evening was very well received by everyone and certainly there was a wonderful atmosphere and community connections.
Co-founder of GULP, Bhavini Patel MCed the event and those attending enjoyed a garden greens pesto made by Mulch Pit and GULP members and local food enthusiasts Henry and Shirley, served with Alley Cats Bread. This was followed by a starter of Nummus (Pickled Fish) and accompanied by the story of another GULP co-founder and event creator Emma Lupin’s passion for the sea and gardens combining in Darwin, after arriving by boat and continuing her adventures with plants and places.
Zach Green, stepped in to tell the story of Ben, an Bininj indigenous man from Kakadu, sadly after coming up with an amazing dish that went hand in hand with a story about the love of the stars and connecting to country, and practicing his recipe with the GULP team, he was unable to make it. Ben’s story told of his family living on country, his upbringing involving hunting for foods, but also of a gift given to his family by a Greek Darwin family- a star fruit tree and that that gift that kept on giving, a tree representing connections to Darwin and cultural diversity.
The stories and wonderful flavours kept on coming with an amazing dry Jackfruit curry from Biji, orginally from Kerala in India and a story of connection and family and food bringing people together in a new place;
Zandro who was born in the Phillipines told his story of feasts and food and his love of local food and served up a wonderful salad of pommello, cucumber, sprouts and herbs, served in a lettuce leaf.
Then came our desert, a traditional West Papuan Cassava pudding served up with a story of roots and bitter sweet times of struggling for independence and coming together with family.
During the evening the food was accompanied by music chosen by Miss Possum (aka Gaia) that reflected the food and it’s cooks origins..
It really was a lovely evening and we witnessed so many great conversations and hope to bring people together again in the future
We could not have done this without you- the people that came, the people that donated, so thank you;
Thanks to Simon Whyte for coming and volunteering as a photographer and letting us use the above photographs (with the exception of the photos of Leslie Gordon, taken by Em Lupin) 
There were awards for different events at the Fringe festival, which the event was part of and our hard work was apparently awarded winner in the Spoken Word Gold Category- which is pretty awesome, Lisa and I were at another friends show- not at the awards (which we were not really aware of) but we get a gold crocodile!
We also raised a $200 “Hire donation” for the Mulch Pit / Frillies plus an extra $190 for the garden, which is great. ($390 total) This will go towards tools for the garden and materials.
With money raised from ticket sales and donations we managed to buy the produce, give the cooks some money for their time, pay the chef and story telling mentor, hire lights/ sound/ tablecloths and the rest was down to wonderful volunteers (including volunteer organizers, MC, Mulch Pit servers and people washing up, decorators and musical entertainment and much more.)
Thank you so much to our supporters that helped covered the above costs including-
Don Whyte Framing
City of Darwin Council
Hon. Natasha Fyles (Local member for Nightcliff)
Alley Cats Patisserie
Greenies Real Foods
and of course all of those who came along!
THANKS once again for your time and we hope to do it next year.

Eat my Words- Taste and Tales of Tropical Cooks

Join GULP for a five course meal under the stars, in the lush surrounds of the Mulch Pit Community Garden; as part of the Darwin Fringe Festival.
Eat my words

Community cooks from diverse backgrounds will use local tropical produce to create a fine meal made with love, and seasoned with their stories. As each course is served its creator will share not only the recipe and the origin of the ingredients, but also about themselves and their Darwin journey.

As well as knowledge about how to use tropical produce, guests will go home with a recipe booklet and greater understanding of how eating local can reduce the environmental impact of their diet by reducing waste and food miles.


Eat My Words! encourages participation from guests with ticket prices varying according to how much or how little you wish to contribute. Offer your creative talents and reduce your ticket price to just $5 or help set up or wash dishes at the end of the night and you’ll pay half. Alternatively, if you’re in a good place financially pay a little extra to support the ongoing work of the Mulch Pit. You might even like to pay it forward by purchasing our ‘be my guest option’ where you buy a ticket for yourself while sponsoring a place for someone who needs a little bit of good fortune to head their way.

Eat My Words! will be a low food miles and low waste event. We will be using lovely mistmatched crockery, cutlery and glassware, have on-site composting and wherever possible will endeavour to use ingredients with either no packaging, or recyclable packaging.

A selection of cold tisanes and infusions will be provided at the event. You are welcome to BYO alcoholic or other beverages.

Green Mango salad

Event Details

6pm til 10pm
Thursday 13th July, 2017
The Mulch Pit Community Garden
21 Cummins Street, Nightcliff

Help reduce the environmental footprint of Eat My Words! by cycling, sharing a ride or catching the bus. The number 4 bus stops on Francis Street, approx 150m from the venue. Timetables and maps can be found at


Various ticket prices/ involvement available- check it out! Limited seats available

SURPRISE! We are asking all our guests to bring along one small surprise (preferably something very low, or no, cost) to gift to a stranger at the event. It would be great if your gift connects to the event theme. Some suggestions are a plant, packet of seeds, favourite ingredient or cooking or gardening implement. This is a great opportunity to find a new home for something useful that you no longer need 🙂

Banana and coconut frozen desert 2


Important Information

So far we have cooks from the Phillipines, PNG and Southern Indian with more to come. The majority of the food will be vegetarian and gluten free but we can’t promise that all dishes will be both.

Resources and seating space for this event are pretty tight so all guest will need a ticket, children included – babes in arms should be fine.

Banana trunk soup

Want to know more?

Find out more about the MULCH PIT at –

IN PERSON – 21 Cummins Street, Nightcliff (Saturday mornings are best)

GULP NT (Growing and Using Local Plants) can be found online at –


Thanks to TASTE OF THE TOP END for use of their gorgeous pics of tropical tucker. Check out more at –


Don’t forget to share this campaign with your family and friends. It’s going to be an amazing, one-of-a kind event x

Wild food walk and talk

Wild food walk and talk (in a window of non-wild weather)

Busher tucker tiles 1Continuing on with the theme of wild food GULP hosted a wild food walk at Casaurina Coastal reserve with a focus on native plants. We worked to get Larrrakia guide and representative to lead the walk and talk, but in the end this was not possible as the head of Larrakia rangers, but we received their blessing and had a message to pass on from them.

The Larrakia people are the traditional caretakers of the land and always will be, they are saltwater people, making Lee Point and its creeks a very special place, particularly for food. A diet of seafood was suplimented with fruits and roots from the bush as well as eating some land animals. The plants tell a story of the time of year and reflect a story that everything is interconnected and in cycle.

As Darwin was taken over by “settlers” and as with pretty much everywhere else land stolen and developed, the Larrakia had a very difficult time continuing the same interaction with land and food. There are some very sacred places within the Casaurina beach area and many indigenous people from all over come to Darwin and still enjoy the bush tucker available. Some other introduced plants can also be found wild and can be eaten (such as Rosella)

Passing on the story of how our native landscapes hold valuable and amazing plants (and animals) will help keep these placed protected and respected, rather than seen as “unused scrubland” – a term often used for our wonderful bush.

Display table 2

This is a popular topic with over 50 people joining us for the walk and talk despite the wild weather warnings- luckily for us we happened to host this in a pocket of lightening skies.

The wild food guides included Yvette Brady, from Greening Australia, a very knowledgeable native horticulturalist and indigenous trainer; Rod Baker who works on a Bush Tucker program in a homeland in Arnhemland, Emma Lupin, GULP coordinator and native plant and wildlife specialist and Grusha Lehman- a knowledgeable community cook and lover of the Bush from our GULP and Food care projects who has spent many years foraging.

many walk

A display table was set up with a huge array of mainly fruits that are to be found in our native landscapes at this time of year.

After an intro talk on the many species in season and different places they are found and how to eat them, we took everyone in 4 guided groups to look at wild food plants insitu within the park.

rod toursEmma tours

Shortly we will add the details of all the plants covered in our walk and talks..

Ampelosiscus dec16


Syzygium armstrongii

We hope to host more wild food walks in future and Larrakia can join us to tell their story in person..