8 ways to cook with Indigenous flavours at home

Interested in cooking with native Australian flavours but not sure where to start? Coles Ambassador Nornie Bero shares her tips.

Nornie Bero in a restaurant

Nornie Bero: Encouraging Australians to embrace native flavours in everyday cooking.

Nornie Bero describes Torres Strait Islander food as “a smiling that never stops”. Originally from Mer Island in the Torres Strait, Nornie has been cooking dishes using Indigenous ingredients for much of her career. She’s passionate about creating native Australian cuisine and encouraging people to embrace these flavours in their everyday cooking.

Besides native ingredients, Nornie loves to cook with tropical fruits, such as pineapple and guava, as well as root vegetables, such as yams and taro. “If you can’t get your hands on these veg, try potatoes and daikon instead,” she says.

Here are some common ingredients used in Indigenous cooking that you can bring to your everyday meals.

  • Papaya. Papaya is so versatile! Cut it into cubes and add it to coconut fish curry or slice it, splash it with lime juice and eat it fresh or add to salads. 
  • Coconut milk. I love a coconut curry. A good tip when making curry is to always use a heavy coconut milk or cream to give it a nice rich flavour. You can also use it to make a light and delicious vegan coconut panna cotta. 
  • Lemongrass. Try using lemongrass instead of lemon juice in your next jam to give a tangy flavour. Slice it into finger-length pieces and cook with your jam fruit.
  • Soy sauce. For your next barbecue, add some sugar, vinegar, ginger and garlic to soy sauce and use it as a marinade for chicken. 
  • Macadamias. Try grinding macadamias down, add some *pepperberry and *saltbush for flavour, and use it to crumb salmon and other fish. 
  • Lemon myrtle. Why not add some lemon myrtle to your next green curry paste for an extra kick, or add to butter biscuits for a delicious afternoon tea.
  • Finger lime. Cut a finger lime in half and squeeze out the finger lime pearls - they are perfect on juicy oysters. 
  • Saltbush. I call saltbush the “Blak [sic] Man's Oregano” - it's a great substitute for the herb, or, given its salty taste, you can use it as an alternative to salt. 

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