• Saltbush and mountain pepper squid (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel
Curious about cooking with Indigenous Australian flavours, but don’t know where to start? Here are 13 simple and vibrant recipes.
9 Nov 2020 - 12:49 PM  UPDATED 30 Jun 2021 - 12:41 PM

National NAIDOC Week (4 – 11 July 2021) celebrates the history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Join SBS and NITV for a full slate of NAIDOC Week programming and content, and follow NITV on Facebook and Instagram to be part of the conversation. For more information about NAIDOC Week or this year’s theme, head to the official NAIDOC website


1. Braised eggplant with saltbush 

A luscious combination of eggplant simmered until it's mouth-meltingly soft then served with a rich Japanese-spiced sauce and slivers of grassy, refreshing saltbush. 

2. Wattleseed and thyme damper 

Crunchy little wattleseeds have a flavour somewhere between coffee and chocolate, and when combined with the earthy aroma of fresh thyme in this damper, you'll be transported straight to the Australian outback.

3. Pineapple fritters with pepperberry sugar

Relive fond childhood memories of golden pineapple fritters, but in their grown-up version: pineapple is poached in a spiced syrup, and served with a sugar-salt sprinkle laced with aromatic native pepper berries.

Pepperberry ice-cream

The scent of Tassie’s native pepperberry adds a lovely note to luscious ice-cream. You can make the basic custard, called an ‘anglaise’ in French, in a double boiler, which helps ensure you don’t overcook it.

4. Macadamia baklava recipe

If you're a fan of all things syrupy and pastry then Mark Olive's baklava rendition is a must. He adds his signature twist to this classic Levantine sweet, with the use of macadamia nuts, lemon myrtle in the cake and lemon aspen in the syrup.

Macadamia baklava

5. Butterflied saltbush chook 

Add an Australian twist to your BBQ-chicken repertoire with this straightforward recipe: make a rub of dried spices, lemon and saltbush, marinate, then grill. If you can't get dried saltbush leaves, bay leaves can be used as a substitute. 

6. Crispy-skinned butterfish with quandong jam

Quandong is a fruit in the sandalwood family, with a sweet and tangy citrusy flavour that works perfectly in baking, preserves and sauces. This jam combines it with cherry tomatoes, lemongrass, chilli, coriander for a sweet and savoury combination that would work well with fish or meat.

7. Charred carrot salad with sorrel, macadamia and lemon vinaigrette 

Roasted macadamias bring nutty creaminess to this dish that covers all textures and flavours: salty parmesan, sweet charred carrots, lemony sorrel and a herby mustard dressing.

8. Quince and lemon myrtle syrup cake

Rosey quince gets an Indigenous Australian flavour makeover by poaching them in a heavily lemon myrtle-laced syrup. 

9. Purslane yoghurt dip 

Purslane - or pigweed - may be more commonly regarded as a weed, but its succulent-like leaves are used in raw and cooked like other greens spinach and have a lemony and slightly peppery flavour. Here, raw purslane is blended with yoghurt for an Indigenous Australian-style tzatziki dip. 

10. Scallops with Warrigal greens and Davison plum butter

Warrigal greens, like native Australian spinach, are chopped and added to the scallop shells before chargrilling, adding a fresh little green burst to sweet scallops. The decorative butter they're served with is a simple concoction of softened butter blended with a heaping of tangy Davidson plum powder.

11. Saltbush and mountain pepper squid

See you later salt and pepper squid and hello saltbush and mountain pepper squid. Same technique, but with an Indigenous Australian flavour. 

12. Lemon-infused fish cooked in paperbark with herb butter

Cooking fish in leaves and bark is a technique found the world over. Cooking it in paperbark gives fish a deliciously smoky aroma, which is pepped up with some zesty lemon and herbaceous butter.

13. Chocolate and wattleseed self-saucing pudding

For a simple hack to create a native Australian-flavoured dessert, add a couple of tablespoons of wattleseeds to chocolate pud. Wattleseeds have a naturally chocolatey flavour, but with a hint of the distinct aroma of the Australian bush.

For more Indigenous flavour inspiration check out our recipe collection here.

More ways with native flavours
BBQ kangaroo steak sandwich with caramelised onions

Juicy, lean and packed with flavour, this is a BBQ sandwich that will have everyone back for seconds.

Macadamia and mandarin cake with cinnamon syrup

"When we filmed this show, everyone’s garden in the hinterland was full of ripe sweet mandarins, add macadamias and some nomadic chicken eggs and I was reminded of this classic flourless citrus cake." Peter Kuruvita, Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen

Blackened mackerel with lemon myrtle and finger lime
Grilled prawns with lemon myrtle and vanilla hollandaise

Prawns are a great Aussie Christmas tradition. This fine dining-inspired recipe for prawns comes with a velvety smooth hollandaise sauce, which also goes well with poultry and steak. Prawns can be barbecued, grilled in a pan or even bought cooked and peeled for convenience.

Paperbark barramundi and saltbush wild rice

As a native ingredient, paperbark has a distinct and delicious smoky flavour that is fantastic with meaty barramundi just thrown on some hot coals. When the perfect ingredients are found all around us, there’s no wonder barbecues are a national pastime.