Australia & NZ
15 Irresistible Indigenous Foods of Australia
Forget Vegemite, Pavlova and beetroot on burgers. This select list covers some of the best and most genuine Indigenous foods of Australia.
The quandong, or native peach, is one of the more recognisable and omnipresent bush foods Down Under. Santalum acuminatum, the desert quandong, grows from Gascoyne to South West, Western Australia, parts of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
Proof positive that Oz loves profuse, eccentric nicknames, the Kakadu plum, or billygoat plum, gubinge or murunga, flowers in Top End tropical woodlands. Terminalia ferdinandiana, notably, jams more vitamin C per gram than any other fruit on the planet.
Not the breed you need for marinara sauce, solanum chippendalei is a bush tomato native to the tropics of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. Unlike some nastier cousins, the fruit of this nightshade shrub is safe to eat.
Before John Macadam (and, frankly, even after), the buttery macadamia nut was simply gyndl, jindilli or boombera in Indigenous parlance. The “Big Macadamia” is in the town of Nambour, Queensland.
Wriggly witchetty grubs produce a solid protein punch but have yet to crossover to mainstream palates. Nonetheless, they make a good snack if you every find yourself under the shade of a River Red Gum tree.
The fleshy part of podocarpus elatus, or plum pine, seed cones make for a stellar condiment ingredient – presumably for a Four’N Twenty or sanger.
Contemporary NT hunters invite controversy when they shoot Magpie Geese but historically the waterfowl was a vital staple of the Top End Indigenous diet.
As many as 50 million kangaroos rove Australia. Per annum, about 10% wind up in supermarket coolers as kanga bangas, filets and the like.
Sydney rock oyster
Shellfish was a crucial, reliable source of protein for Indigenous Australians for thousands of years. Today, of course, oysters have a bit of a posh patina, which is funny when you consider the humble roots of the mollusc. The Sydney rock oyster is a beauty of a bivalve endemic to Australia.
Still in marineland, the Murray cod is a freshwater fish and angler icon in New South Wales.
Barramundi, however, dominates the pescavore discussion in Oz, even if the fish is equally popular in the likes of Thailand, India and Indonesia. Curiously, the name “barramundi”, while Aboriginal in origin, was purely a cynical sales tactic in the 1980s to move more of the fish to market. The ploy, of course, was a massive success.
The desert lime, a hardy, stalwart citrus, is a potent cure-all for bushland foragers. Commercial cultivation, however, has made citrus glauca more accessible to the masses in recent years.
A divinely aromatic fruit native to north Queensland, the lemon aspen is popular with antioxidant proponents.
No, not footballer Franck Ribéry … riberry. You know, as in syzygium luehmannii, clove lilli pilli, cherry satinash and cherry alder, a native berry of tropical Queensland and emu fave.
Emus do not, however, seem to care much for muntries, or emu apples. This “spicy apple” is definitely a berry and yet another Down Under antioxidant star, with 400% more pep than blueberries.
What is your top Indigenous ingredient? Let us know below!