I was only 13 when my family fled Timor because of the civil war. We took refuge on a Swedish cargo ship and arrived in Darwin in 1975. Darwin has changed so much over the past 38 years and now has a huge Timorese community. Social gatherings are always on the calendar and tukil is regularly on the menu.
Gloria de Castro

18 Aug 2013 - 6:32 PM  UPDATED 18 Aug 2013 - 6:35 PM

My grandmother, Rosa, and my mother, Maria dos Anjos, taught me how to cook. I come from a large family and food is very important to us. We are always in the kitchen cooking, talking and laughing.

I must have been 10 years old when my grandmother first showed me how to make tukil. She would make it with either lamb or goat meat. I remember foraging for herbs and vegetables in the Timorese mountainside with her. The produce from the mountains tastes amazing. I’ve passed on my grandmother’s recipe for tukil to my children Simone and William. Out of respect for my grandmother, I always use fresh turmeric and tamarind in my tukil, just like she showed me. We normally serve it with steamed rice, but on extra-special occasions, like Timorese National Day, we serve it with katupa, which is rice and coconut milk cooked in palm leaf parcels.


East Timorese lamb and tamarind stew


Interview Clancy Atkinson

Photography Peter Eve