The first ‘not yet humid’ afternoon experience was held at a Darwin-style tropical house in Alawa and the small group enjoyed glasses of soda water with fragrant mint, bobbing bush tucker berries of pinkish lilly pilly fruit and slices of shrill green limes.
Pedro, originally from Mexico’s tropical, humid, and jungle-like Chiapas region, shared his recipe. He and his partner Leesa were thrilled to see the extraordinary range of produce at Rapid Creek Market when they first arrived in Darwin three years ago.
It reminded Pedro of the markets, the freshly dug tubers with earth still clinging, and similar produce, at home. There is rich volcanic soil in the Chiapas region, which has a border with Guatemala, and the lively markets are full of home grown produce.
Did you know that tomatoes, avocados, passionfruit, papayas, corn, amaranth and chilli peppers are native to Mexico? The earliest evidence of avocado use and cultivation in Mexico dates to 10,000 BC.
Taro has been used in Mexico for thousands of years and Pedro’s grandfather still cultivates it. He was excited to see it at the markets and, with whetted appetite, anticipated his own ‘tastes of home’.
Taro is of course used in many different ways in the cuisines of people of diverse cultural backgrounds in Darwin. Pedro said that the leafy spinach-like amaranth means ‘happiness’ in his Mayan dialect.
He was ably assisted by partner Leesa who chopped and diced as Pedro mixed the ingredients and shaped the patties.
The fresh salsa piled on top of the fried hot rostis was delicious! These rostis can be eaten at any time of the day as a snack or as a main meal.
Taro is a water-loving root vegetable that grows all year – and especially well in Darwin’s Wet season – and can be grown from small pieces of the tuber.
Tomatoes grow well throughout the Dry season and can be harvested into early November, when they die back due to humidity.
TARO ROSTIS (TORTA DE MACAL)
3 medium sized taro
1 bunch fresh coriander
(e.g. Thai coriander)
1 small bunch amaranth
3 spring onions
3 tbsp chia seeds
Salt and pepper
Peel taro then grate into a bowl. Add chopped amaranth, finely chopped coriander stems, chia seeds and finely diced spring onions and mix well by hand – gloves may be worn for mixing as taro has oxalic acid, so mixing by hand may irritate the skin. Add eggs gradually. Mix well. Add salt and pepper. Shape into thin patties and fry both sides in coconut oil until brown and cooked through.
TOMATO SALSA (PICO DE GALLO)
(stems used in rosti)
1 or 2 limes
1 or more chillis (optional)
Finely dice tomatoes and onion, chop coriander leaves, add lime juice and optional chopped chilli. Add salt to taste.
Serve salsa on top of rostis.
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.