Pedro community cooks features in this month Off The Leash
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Kakadu Kitchen https://parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/taste/events/kakadu-kitchen/
Greek inspired Star fruit salad
2 ripe but firm (and sweet) local star fruits
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
OR TO TASTE
- 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.
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!)
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.
There 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.
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.
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.
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 https://www.nt.gov.au/driving/public-transport-cycling/public-bus-timetables-maps-darwin
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 🙂
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.
Want to know more?
Find out more about the MULCH PIT at –
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 –
WEBSITE – https://tasteofthetopend.com/
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/Taste-of-The-Top-End-409610495814389/
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/tasteofthetopend/
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 (in a window of non-wild weather)
Continuing 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.
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.
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.
Shortly we will add the details of all the plants covered in our walk and talks..
We hope to host more wild food walks in future and Larrakia can join us to tell their story in person..
Plants are amazingly diverse and used by humans in so many ways, not forgetting their intrinsic connection to all other beings. Here in the Top End we have an abundance of incredible native plants in our landscape and the ability to grow a huge array of Tropical plants for amenity, aesthetic value, happiness, food or in this case dyes.
We have had a bit of a focus on wild food with GULP with a recent twist on dyeing.
Aly de Groot is a local fibre artist inspired by the NT flora and fauna. She has lived and worked in the Top End with local plants as fibres and dyes for many years, often working with indigenous communities on ghost net projects and recycled arts. Using the inspiration of traditional techniques to create a whole other realm of fibre art.
When Aly offered to facilitate a workshop for GULP using back yard plant dies before she leaves to Queensland (hopefully not forever) we snapped up the fantastic opportunity for her to share her skills.
The workshop was open to anyone interested, but we limited the numbers so it was not too crammed. An enthusiastic group of wonderful Darwin residents came together on Summer solstice with local food dishes to share, ideas of dye plants and some great enthusiasm. The idea was that Aly guided the morning session and shared her dyeing techniques and after a shared lunch anyone wishing to carried on with experiments of collected plants that we thought might make good dye.
In the morning we went for a little wander in Rapid Creek (the suburb and to the creek edge) to collect some plant material. The rule when collecting is to only take a little from each plants, particularly if it is flowers or fruit, so the plant can still reproduce. We were just looking for Eucalypts or Melaleuca trees with low lying leaves; which are very common and the Weeping Teas Tree (Leptospernum maddium) is very common as a nature strip tree, but usually found along creek edges.
There are many native plants that you can dye with, but we don’t want to encourage everyone to go ripping up Mangroves or native shrubs from the bush, so we have stuck to those easily grown in gardens or replenished.
The Eucalyptus leaves make up a dye bath for the base of dyeing. This can be any plant that is plentiful and will make the base of the colour. Late on we also used green tea. Eucalyptus or Melaleuca leaves make a grey, brown colour and green tea more of a yellowy green colour.
The next step is to choose the dye plants or objects that will make the pattern.
We tried garden turmeric root, Ceylon Spinach berries, Amaranth flowers,
Kaffir lime leaves, turmeric (again), Stinky Cheese Fruit root (Monrinda citrifolia)- a common naturalised Top End plant that pops up in gardens and Weeping Tea Tree Leaves.
Frozen rosella calyx, like those you would make jam with, were also trialled.
Then different dye plants and rusty treasures are laid onto the silk fabric…
Rusty nails and old items make great dark patterns, dry tea is added to make orange patches, some onion peel and Okinaoa spinach thrown in for measure and experimental purposes, each placed to add not only colour but pattern through texture.
Once an agreeable amount of plants are placed inside the material is tightly wrapped up.
The parcels of botanical goodness are wrapped really tightly, with plastic string and other rusty wire adornments and then boiled in the base dye bath.
After boiling them for an hour or more, they are pulled out and like Christmas presents, the surprises inside revealed.
The fabric is then rinsed off and ironed. Silk is used as it takes on colours more readily and does not need as many mordents as cotton. Traditionally in the NT strips or strings of plant fibres are dyed then woven; usually Pandanus or Sand Palm.
Noni (Stinky Cheese Fruit) root, turmeric root, dried tea leaves , rosella and kaffir lime leaves were very effective. The scarves were a fantastic outcome and grew our love of local plants even more.
More plant dye experiments and workshops are planned by the GULP team…
Thanks Aly for your inspiration, thanks City of Darwin for supporting GULP and thanks all participants for the great food and dyeing ideas…
Words and photos by EM Lupin
There are some wonderful community gardens around Darwin where you can meet knowledgeable people who grow veggies during the whole year and value community.
This Sunday Lakeside Drive Community Garden is hosting an Open Garden to celebrate our change in seasons and the great work carried out there by Work for the Dole.
Anyone is invited to come along and check out the garden, meet members, work for the dole participants and express their interest in joining.
Some cultural poles have been placed in the garden by the City of Darwin Council and there will be an opening ceremony too.
There are some plots that will be made available to the community and if you are interested you can register.and find out more about how to get involved.
There will be garden tours, a quick snapshot of what to grow in the wet season and some local garden tea making demos by the GULP project.
So please come along