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First Nations Food Companion

First Nations Food Companion – By Damien Coulthard & Rebecca Sullivan

The average Australian knows more about kale than warrigal greens, or pine nuts than bunya nuts, but there’s an edible pantry of unique flavours that First Nations people have been making the most of for aeons. In First Nations Food Companion, emerging elder Damien Coulthard and his partner Rebecca Sullivan have compiled a living, growing repository of knowledge with delicious, practical uses. In the informative guide, you’ll find more than 60 of the most accessible Indigenous ingredients including their flavour profiles, along with tips for how to buy, grow and store them. You’ll also find recipes featuring native ingredients, tips for substituting regular pantry ingredients where needed, how to grow an Indigenous medicine garden and the best places to find native ingredients. Your next walk in the bush will never be the same again.

Boonjie Tamarind & Macadamia Noodle Salad


A midweek meal that’s our take on a noodle salad using our rainforest favourite, the boonjie (or small-leaved) tamarind. Feel free to use any kind of noodle that you enjoy.


1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ cup macadamia butter
3 finger limes, pearls squeezed
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
Salt & ground pepperberry, to taste
200g bean noodles or soba noodles, cooked as per packet instructions
¼ cup karkalla or other native greens, chopped
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 red capsicum, seeds removed, sliced
1 cup finely shredded white cabbage
100g snow peas, trimmed & thinly sliced lengthways
1 tbsp island sea celery leaves
¼ cup small-leaved tamarind, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground roasted wattleseed (optional)
1 cup wild basil leaves, chopped, to serve
Chopped macadamia nuts, to serve


To make the dressing, place all ingredients in a blender with 1–2 tbsp water and whiz to combine. Season to taste with salt and ground pepperberry.

Place noodles and vegetables in a bowl, add tamarind and wattleseed, then pour in dressing, tossing to combine and coat.

Serve topped with basil and macadamia nuts.

Beetroot, Chocolate & Wattleseed Cake


Beetroot, you say? Yes, absolutely. It keeps the cake beautifully moist and gives it an earthy scent and flavour that complement the wattleseed. If you don’t have any beetroot, you could use leftover mashed potato. It sounds crazy, but it has the same moisture-locking ability as beetroot. The cake batter here is enough to make a single cake, which you can ice and serve with the cream and muntries alongside. If you want to make a two-layer cake like in the picture, double the recipe and make two cakes, filling the centre with the muntrie cream.


125g butter, softened
1⅓ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp roasted ground wattleseed
3 large free-range eggs
75g dark chocolate, melted
1½ cups self-raising flour
⅔ cup raw cacao powder, sifted Pinch salt
250g cooked beetroot, peeled & grated

Muntrie Cream
2 cups thickened cream
1 tbsp pure icing sugar
1 cup muntries

150g dark chocolate, chopped
135g sour cream
¼ cup pure icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp roasted ground wattleseed
Davidson’s plum powder, to serve


Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper (or two tins if you are making a two-layer cake). Cream butter, sugar, wattleseed and eggs in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until pale and fluffy, then add melted chocolate and beat to combine. Gently fold in flour, cacao and a pinch of salt, then stir in beetroot.

Pour into tin(s) and bake for 45 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For muntrie cream, whip cream and icing sugar together until thick.

For icing, put all ingredients into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let base of bowl touch water) and stir until melted and combined. Remove from heat and keep stirring until glossy. Allow both cake and icing to cool.

For a single cake, transfer to a serving plate and ice the cake, serving with cream and muntries. For a two-layer cake, transfer one of the cakes to a plate, spread the cream across the top and scatter with muntries. Carefully place the second cake on top and spread with icing. Devour.



Like Nutella, but not. This Aussie version has less bad stuff and more good stuff, and although it’s a little thicker than the real deal, we prefer it. Just like the original, this requires liberal spreading right to the edges, so don’t skimp.

1¼ cups macadamia nuts, roasted
10 dates, pitted
⅓ cup raw cacao powder
2 tsp wattleseed extract (recipe below)
1 tsp ground wattleseed
2 tbsp macadamia oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon myrtle

Wattleseed Extract
1 tbsp ground wattleseed
¼ cup boiling water


Blitz macadamia nuts in a food processor until they begin to form a paste.

To make the wattleseed extract, add wattleseed to a small coffee plunger and pour in boiling water. Leave for 2 mins to steep, then plunge as normal. (Alternatively, brew it in a tea infuser.)

Add remaining wattella ingredients and continue to blitz, adding 1 tsp water at a time until you reach a thick, spreadable consistency. Add a pinch of salt and stir through.

Serve on toast, crumpets or whatever else takes your fancy. Wattella will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up
to three weeks.

First Nations Food Companion by Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan, photography by Josh Geelen. Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99

Photography Saghar Setareh and Robyn Lea

WellBeing Team

WellBeing Team

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