In an exciting new venture, Malynka Williams of The Taste Australia Bush Food Shop and I have decided to form an even stronger bond. Each month we will feature a different herb/bush tucker food, I will provide some interesting background information about it, as normal for our blog, Malynka will provide the pictures and the herb/bush food itself, one or other of us will make the recipe, photos will be taken, then we will publish simultaneously on our respective websites. We are beginning with Native Australian Ginger. There will inevitably be some ingredients that are hard to find for those not living in Australia, where appropriate or possible we will suggest alternatives.
Most of us think of a herb as that glorious je ne sais quoi that adds oodles of flavour to our food. However, botanically speaking, a herb is any plant with a non-woody stem & this little beauty is one of our favourites because you can use every part of this plant, leaves, stems fruits/berries and rhizomes.
Native Australian Ginger is a perennial plant with broad, sword-shaped green leaves with red reverses. These are up to 40 cm long and 3–10 cm wide. The fragrant white flowers are in an inflorescence 10–30 cm long. The blue capsule containing the pine nuts is 1 cm across, with a brittle outer covering containing black seed and white pulp. The tree also has blue berries. The young shoots and berries have a mild ginger flavour and can be used in cooking, or eaten fresh. Alpinia caerulea or Australian Bush Ginger forms a clump up to 2 metres high and likes a lightly shaded to full shade spot, so it can be grown indoors.
The white pulp of native ginger has a sour flavour, that bushmen use to activate their salivary glands to moisten their mouths when bushwalking, with the seeds usually being discarded. The capsules can also be used as a flavouring spice, using the whole fruit and seed dried and ground. They can also be used to impart a sour flavour and a red colourIng in herbal teas
Malynka made this wonderful recipe this weekend. For those of you unable to get hold of this splendid Munducklin curry powder, we suggest you buy the powder and have it sent to you from the Taste Australia Bush Food Shop. Here’s how
Alternatively, you can grind up your favourite curry spices or use your favourite curry powder, because finding the other native ingredients in it, as you will see from the TABF website, may prove hard unless you live in Australia. We also advise you to substitute pine nuts or tofu for the bunya nuts.
- 2 tsp Macadamia oil
- 4 tsp finely chopped ginger root
- 1 Native Ginger shoot (Cut into 1 cm pieces)
- 1 heaped tsp Munducklin Curry Powder featuring native ingredients
- 1 tsp palm sugar
- 1 tsp Lemon Myrtle powder
- 1 tsp Mountain Pepperleaf powder
- 400ml coconut milk
- 1 cup cubed sweet potato
- 1 cup roughly chopped roasted Bunya Nuts
- Fresh River Mint and Native Ginger leaf to garnish
- Your choice of vegetables
- Prepare Bunya Nuts: Hold the nut with one hand and tap it with a hammer to split the tips open. The nutshells have a seam down each side and this is where you should hit (gentle tap only to produce a split at the point).
- Then place on a tray and into a 200C oven for 20-30 mins. The splits in the nutshell increase as the nuts cook. Allow them to cool for 5 mins before giving them another gentle tap on the side seams so that the shell falls open to reveal the nut. Chop roughly and set aside.
- Sauté the Ginger root and Munducklin Curry powder in the Macadamia Oil
- Add the coconut milk, Native Ginger shoot, sweet potato and bunya nuts. Reduce liquid to 2/3.
- Steam vegetables separately. Cook rice in your favourite way.
- In the final stages add the palm sugar, Pepperleaf and Lemon Myrtle. Pour native curry sauce over the vegetables and serve with rice. Garnish with native ginger leaf and river mint.
More about Malynka
Malynka is a third generation Australian who was raised on the edge of the South Australian desert. Her ancestors migrated from England as free settlers around 1852. The area in which she grew up was home to a large population of first Australians as well as immigrants from Greece, Italy, Poland, Lebanon and Germany. Malynka’s interest in bush food began in the mid 1990’s but it was not until early 2008 that she could see what a positive step the Bush Food Industry could be in helping the traditional land owners. Many foods are either grown or wild harvested by Aboriginal people and the reward for their efforts gives them purpose, pride and encourages the young ones to learn about their culture.
The aim of Taste Australia Bush Food Shop is to assemble as many different bush foods as possible and experiment by using them in various cuisines. With her work with the Aborigines, Malynka has discovered tastes which are now indispensable in her kitchen, numerous kitchens of her fellow Australians and now, thanks to their blogs, introducing us to Australian Bush Food, ours! You can follow Taste Australia Bush Food Shop on Facebook too.