Take a sensory holiday to the Top End with entree, main and dessert recipes all made by locals.
11 Jun 2020 - 6:51 PM  UPDATED 12 Jun 2020 - 9:33 AM

Struggling to find a theme for your next gathering? Well, why not go local with an all-in Darwin dinner party. We've got a wealth of recipes so vibrant you'll almost feel the warmth of the afternoon sun on your bare feet as you eat them.

1. Jimmy Shu's aloo bonda

This typical South Indian snack is sometimes found on the menu at Hanuman, Jimmy Shu's Darwin restaurant. It's just one of the many delightful snacks you can find across the city's multicultural dining scene.

2. Citrus butter crab

What's more Darwin than a freshly cooked mud crab? Douse it in citrus butter for an entree to share, or main dish to treat your guests. Because mud crab is only wild caught in Australia, it gets a green light from Good Fish, the sustainable seafood guide, making it a better choice.

3. Muy's Cambodian mango salad

It's hard to go past a punchy, sour, salty, sweet green mango or papaya salad, even on a cold day. Muy, a Cambodian migrant and Darwin local, wants to start a new trend in the Top End, adding green mango instead of the popular green papaya for a distinctly Cambodian feel. We know green mango and papaya are hard to come by, so if you just want to enjoy the flavours of her signature dressing, swap them out with some julienned cucumber and carrot for a refreshing side or entree.

Muy’s Cambodia green mango salad

4. Beef rendang roti wraps

If you've been to the Nightcliff Markets and not had a beef rendang roti wrap, we suggest you get cracking on this recipe. Malaysian migrant Samiah Latiff has been selling these at her popular market stall for so long that her daughter, Siti, has now joined her. It might take a little extra time to become a roti master like Siti but we promise, the effort is worth the reward.

5. Barramundi meen moilee

Another Hanuman favourite, Jimmy's simple and delightful coconut-based curry. It's perfect for throwing together effortlessly if you've spent too much time on other courses, or need a night to relax while hosting.

Barramundi meen moilee

6. Amye Un's hot and spicy chicken

Amye Un is well known across the Top End, and perhaps even further interstate. She's regarded both for her delicious Indonesian fare and her determination to help Darwin become a better city, one green strip at a time

7. Nadem's lamb kabsa

There's a hidden secret in this recipe which will make your lamb kabsa taste as rich and smoky as Nadem's, without having to go near a charcoal grill or open fire pit. She uses a little alfoil, vegetable oil and a small piece of charcoal to infuse the rice with the deep scent of outdoor cooking.

Nadem’s lamb kabsah

8. Sri Lankan young jackfruit curry

Vegetarians coming round? Well, set those lamb kabsa plans aside because it's time for you to pop out and hunt down some jackfruit. The season is short and we will understand if you can't find it fresh, but tinned jackfruit will sub in just fine when making Karunika Pemarathne's Sri Lankan recipe.

Young jackfruit curry

9. Jimmy Shu's five-spice roast pork with noodles

This Cantonese-style classic is a proclaimed childhood favourite of Shu's. The pork is cooked char siu style, at a low heat for less time than you'd think (about half an hour). Serve with blanched egg noodles and greens to round out the meal.

10. Red bush apple bundles

A good portion of Australia's native food production happens in the Northern Territory, and it's the only place you will find bush apples that are naturally harvested and sold commercially. The team at Maningrida Wild Foods sell them frozen, but if that's off the cards you can just make these bush apple bundles by subbing in the bush apple portion for extra granny smith's and stuff them in the toasty, sweet wattleseed pastry. 

11. Lemon, lime and macadamia raw cheesecake

Alternatively, you can end the night on a cool and fresh note, with Petra Kepic's raw vegan macadamia cheesecake. It's a coveted recipe, as Petra runs her very own cake shop in the NT where you can have one made for you next time you're in the area.

12. Sticky rice doughnuts stuffed with sweet bean paste

These Thai doughnuts are a delight of textures - a crispy outer shell surrounding a springy glutinous rice dough, with a delicious sweet mung bean ball at the centre. Wana Sinclair is known around Darwin for her Thai sweet stall, which is one of the oldest at the Rapid Creek Market.


Want more Top End treats? Stream Jimmy Shu's Taste of the Territory on SBS On Demand.

Mung bean and coconut doughnuts

These doughnuts are a delight of textures - a crispy outer shell surrounding a springy glutinous rice dough, with a delicious sweet mung bean ball at the centre.

Magpie goose dumplings

The magpie goose is a water bird native to northern Australia, with lean meat similar to kangaroo meat but finer in texture. Here Jimmy has prepared them in typical Chinese dumpling style, so you could substitute the goose meat for duck, chicken or even pork.

Wattleseed and vanilla ice-cream

Acacia Victoriae wattle is a native Australian tree that produces a seed with an aroma similar to coffee or fortified wine that is most often used in sweet dishes. Here, it adds flavour to creamy ice-cream.

‘Desert rose’ pearl meat ceviche

Pearl meat is the exquisitely flavoured muscle of the pearl shell - the same species that produce pearls. This iconic Darwin recipe created by chef Jimmy Shu sources pearl meat from the Paspaley Pearling Company. If you can’t find pearl meat at your local fish market, use the freshest scallops you can find.