If there is one dish that best exemplifies Australia’s native ingredients movement’s most current evolution, it just might be a piping hot bowl of kangaroo pho. “I encourage people to try the different plants before adding them to the broth,” Rebecca Sullivan explains as she places an array of indigenous plants and herbs upon our table. She points to succulent sprigs of coorong seablite, leaves of lemon and anise myrtle, shimmering bunches of iceplant and pods of finger limes spilling out tart green pearls. “I like to squeeze them just straight into the broth,” she says, pointing to the chubby citrus bombs.
This is Warndu, a pop-up restaurant and well-being brand from Adelaide, Australia brought to life by Sullivan and her partner, Damien Coulthard. Named for the word “good” in the Adnyamathanha language—the language of Coulthard’s Aboriginal heritage—Warndu is aiming to bring native Australian ingredients to consumers through dinners that educate and inspire, as well as selling a line of packaged foods (like kangaroo broth and native teas) to cook at home, with the goal of helping to build up sustainable farming and foraging systems within Aboriginal communities for economic growth.
“Indigenous food is food that’s grown in Australia, comes from Australia and that Aboriginal people ate and utilised during their time on the land,” renowned Aboriginal chef Mark Olive told the Daily Telegraph this year. “When people start using these foods with these flavours they’re blown away. Chefs around the world are embracing it and are so curious about it.”
With over 24,000 different documented species of plants, Australia is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, but while this flora situation may seem like a chef’s foraging paradise, much of Australian mainstream cooking has yet to embrace some of the delicious, healing, uniquely Australian native ingredients of the land. But thanks to a new generation of chefs, these native Australian ingredients, ranging from the caramel-y akudjura bush tomato to the wonderfully nutty wattleseed, are finally getting the mainstream attention they deserve—and, in the process, completely revolutionizing Australia’s food scene.