Market Tour and Taste

For the last year or so I have run some occasional Market tours through “Healthy Darwin”, which is a City of Darwin, council program that subsidises the tour. We came up with the idea to connect people to their food more, by connecting them to local growers and familiarising them with the sometimes more ‘unusual’ local produce and I take participants for a tour of Darwin’s largest local produce market, “Rapid Creek Markets” and then onto the nearest community garden- “Jingili Community Garden”, just across the creek.

I take up to 15 Darwin residents on a produce experience, from garden, to market, to taste or vice a versa. Many of the people who come along have lived in Darwin for a long time and even go to the market, but wonder what some the items are and would love to know how to use them. Often the stall holders are understandably too busy to explain more than ‘stirfry’ or similar. Most growers have small farms in the rural area outside Darwin, in Humpty Doo, Virginia, Howard Springs and Bees Creek, and drive in for the Sunday market. Not everything is local, so it is good to know what is in season and all stall holders will tell you straight up where the produce came from, if it sprayed and so on…




The idea of the tour is to familiarise people a little more with the local produce sold at the market, to explain  the uses of the different produce and how it is grown, and to meet some of the growers and hear their stories. It is so valuable to connect people to the produce they consume, know who grows it, how it grows and even inspire people that to grow a little yourself is not that hard.

After many years visiting the markets I have built up a pretty good relationship with a lot of the stall holders, who are often very busy and work really hard, so we try not get in their way too much and I am always appreciative of any of them who can spend a couple of minutes with us.


After a walk through the markets we then take a chilled walk to the nearby Jingili community gardens to see some of the produce growing, the participants can find out how to get involved in local community gardens, or just get inspired to grow a few things at home.


We then sit in the workshop area and taste some of the items, that either I have brought along, or those on the the tour have selected and bought with some their returned “tour fee” – a kind of show and tell. We try these raw or lightly cooked on a simple camp stove set up I bring along with some basic ingredients.  I give ideas about how to use produce to the create delicious dishes and hopefully the tools to take way to experiment with the plant parts (ok, the veggies and fruit).



We are looking to do a few more tours and maybe one that starts at the market and moves on to different gardens around the Northern Suburbs. If you are interested, get in touch and I can put you on the communications list.

I am always too busy to take photos, these shots are  kindly taken by  Lina of Malak Market place, who came on a market tour last year, we hope to work with her at Malak Market next year. Thanks also to Healthy Darwin for subsidising the tour!

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Seasonal Side for a Tropical Christmas

So are you enjoying a sweaty or stormy Christmas in Darwin this year? I hope so..

I love Christmas here, it’s quite and you get to hang out with friends in the yard, in the bush, or the pool with friends, family, cocktails, beer or all of the above.

One thing that should be definitely on the menu is the sharing of some delicious dishes-  healthy and locally grown. I love that celebrations bring people together and whatever your religion, culture or origins this festive season should be celebrating friends, family, he wonderful place we live and of course the local produce we can grow (and eat).

I recently put together a workshop for “Healthy Darwin” of City of Darwin for Darwin residents and 20 participants came along to learn about what is in season around Christmas time, how you can grow it in urban spaces, or where to buy it AND how to make it into fantastic seasonal sides for Christmas (or just sweaty season) celebrations-

So here goes- (a short list, more pictures added later)

A yummy pimento pineapple salsa 

Pineapple salsa one

Great to accompany that fish you caught, any meat dish or on roasted local roots. Pineapples are ready around Christmas- so perfect! You can plant the top to grow more! Use local thai coriander and local peppers.

A raw pumpkin salad with snake beans and an Asian twist

Pumpkin salad grated

Jicama and watermelon salad

Jicama and watermelon salad

(watermelons are just hanging on around Christmas time)

This is a great crunchy and refreshing salad using the versatile jicama root and great local herbs.

A snake bean and butter bean salad with ginger, chilli, lemon and salt. 

Snake beans grow all year and make amazing dishes, including this one with local ginger and lemon (you can also use lime if you like)

Grilled Eggplant with a miso dressing

Another fabulous all year easily grown veggie with a great dressing and some sweet leaf thrown in.

An Amaranth salad with Coconut and Chilli sambal

Amaranth  and coco salad

JAckfruit nuts roasted with lime peel and sumac (or chilli powder)

Jackfruit nuts

Just following the above instructions and add any fab flavourings as you roast. If you have got these from your own jackfruit you make a great fruit salad or juice from the fruit too.

Mango and cucumber salad (with mint and chilli of course)

mango smaller.jpg

You have to add mangoes to as much as possible as this is their time to shine and mango madness rules.

And some drink ideas

Rambutan and Thai basic tonic with a hint of ginger

Rambu thai


Rambu top 2

Lemongrass, ginger, honey and mint iced tea

Chilled grapefruit, lime and cucumber water.

Starfruit spritzer with mint.

Mango and lime smoothies

Hibiscus, lime and honey tea.

Chilled rosella refresher

Pickled fish- Darwin deviants of Namas

So Namas, nummus, or pickled fish is a bit of a Darwin classic and many people have their favourite recipe. In Darwin its origins seem to come from SE Asia or Japan and is another great influence into Darwin cuisine.

Well I don’t eat fish too often, and only if it is caught by a friend or local fisherman, as I also like to keep a lot of fish in the seas, but man this has to be my favourite dishes and I keep it for special occasions- like Christmas and birthdays!

This is also called Ika Mata, Kokonda (Fiji), Poison Cru (Tahiti and surrounds) and Ceviche in South America. I first came accross it in the PAcific Islands when I worked cooking on sailing boats and it came drenched in coconut milk- I loved it. I have since adapted a Darwin version with pawpaw, cucumber, mint and onion in.

Earlier this year a very talented Ashleigh, a travel food and blogger stayed with us and was more into cooking and photographing our local produce than I have been and it was also her favourite dish- so we had a pickled fish “namas off” for a twist on  this Territory favourite. We tried to make as many of the plant ingredients as local as possible.

all namas 3

I am inspired to write about it as I am just about to run a cooking class in Darwin “Season sides for a Tropical Christmas” and couldn’t go without including this indulgent gem. We also came up with 4 different local roots to accompany and styled it all in the backyard!

namas all oo

So in Ash’s words- “Here are just some ideas for the endless flavour combinations for pickled fish. So many cultures and countries around the world have their own versions, and it’s so easy to make up your own using your favourite flavour combinations and the accompaniments are also exciting. It’s all about the balance between the acidity of whatever you use to pickle the fish, along with some fresh elements, some sweetness, heat, spice, salt, and a yummy side.”

All namas 2

Basically the fish is cooked in limed juice or vinegar or a combo or both, so raw but marinated- the acidity “cooks” it. It changes white in colour but stays firm, then the iquid is drained off. I have always covered the fish with lime juice or vinegar for a few hours, but it can be perfectly cooked through- if you leave it too long it will start to fall apart. Fresh fish is best and a firm fish like Jew fish-

Soy, ginger and coriander- Darwin classic

served with Breadfruit wedges 

Soy namas

Marinated with half white vinegar, half lime juice

Combine- Sugar, Garlic Chives, Ginger, Coriander, Chilli, Spring onion, Salt and Pepper

Coconut and Lime served with a pineapple salsa-

served with Taro cakes

Coconut namas

Marinated with- lime juice

Combine-  Coconut Cream, Chilli, Coriander, Sugar, Salt and Pepper

Salsa- Pineapple/Mango/Avocado, capsicum, red onion, chilli, lime juice, salt and pepper

Coriander, onion and chilli-  South American style

with a side of tortillas

Soth American for real namas

Marinate with lime juice


Red Onion, Chilli, Coriander, Tomato, Salt and Pepper

Mango, cumber and mint

with a side of cassava wedges

Pawpaw cucumber namas

Marinated with lime juice


Papaya, Cucumber, Mint, Chilli, Coriander, Red Onion, Salt and Pepper

All Namas 4

What an addition to a seasonal feast- and using practically 100% local ingredients, including friend caught fish and garden produce.

Open GArden at Lakeside Drive Community Garden

There are some wonderful community gardens around Darwin where you can meet knowledgeable people who grow veggies during the whole year and value community.

This Sunday Lakeside Drive Community Garden is hosting an Open Garden.

Anyone is invited to come along and check out the garden, meet members, work for the dole participants and express their interest in joining.

Some cultural poles have been placed in the garden by the City of Darwin Council and there will be an opening ceremony too.

There are some plots that will be made available to the community and if you are interested you can register.and find out more about how to get involved.

There will be garden tours, a quick snapshot of what to grow in the wet season and some local garden tea making demos by the GULP project.

So please come along


Fair Food the Documentary- Darwin Premiere


GULP NT have teamed up with the Enviro collective (CDU) and Lakeside Drive Community Garden to Premiere this great doco in the NT.

The AUSTRALIAN FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ALLIANCE INC (AFSA) has produced the film which looks at food systems and fair food.

The movie will be screened under the stars at Lakeside Drive Community Garden at 7pm, with cooking demos, produce talks and Garden tours from 5pm.

There will be time for a short discussion after the movie, local fabulous food served. The movie is by donation and a great way to spend an August Sunday.

We hope to see you there…

Fair Food Flyer Gourd (2)

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Edible bush flowers- the colourful kapok

Kapok 7

I just posted about the wonderful Kapok tree (Cochlospermum fraserii) which is in flower now. When I heard it was edible I put it in a pretty basic salad on a fishing trip.

Since then I tried it in a very local salad using Snake beans grown in Humpty Doo (steamed and cooled), just hard boiled eggs from our chooks, chick peas, and very excitingly the first of this year’s tomatoes from Jenko’s spray free crop near Noonamah. I also added in some garden herbs and a yummy dressing of local lemon juice, garlic, Bees Creek honey, oil and sumac. Fresh Kapok flowers on top. You can de-petal or put them in whole.

Kapok and bean saladI also added them to a platter that had cheese, and my first batch of pickled Kakadu plums (Terminalia ferdinandiana) and some freshly made Grevillea tea. I think many more of our flowers that become edible fruit could also be added into salads and will research into this more.

pickles too