Classic Australian foods that come to mind for most people are good old meat pies, lamingtons, barbecued prawns and outback damper.
Some Aussie dishes are best enjoyed at cafes, restaurants and other outlets because they’re a bit complicated to cook at home, but whatever you choose to do – dine out or try your hand at home – the following foods are undeniably Australian and completely delicious.
A cookie by any other name but as it’s a quintessential Aussie-style recipe, it has to be called a biscuit!
Created to feature ingredients that were readily available during World War One, ANZAC biscuits were invented as ‘army biscuits’ because they have a long shelf life and can be eaten as a carbohydrate substitute for bread.
The following is pretty much the ‘standard’ ANZAC biscuit recipe.
Preheat oven to 180oC. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Place the flour, coconut, rolled oats and combine sugar in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Place the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 mins or until butter is melted. Set aside for 5 mins to cool slightly.
Combine 1 1/2 tbs boiling water and the bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl. Add to the oat mixture along with the butter mixture. Stir until well combined.
Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the lined trays, allowing space for spreading. Gently press each ball to flatten slightly. Bake for 15 mins for crisp biscuits. Set aside on the trays to cool completely. The biscuits will harden as they cool.
Read more about the history of ANZAC biscuits at the Australian War Memorial website.
Not a recipe as such, but the concept of ‘meat and 3 veg’ seems to be particularly Australian. It refers to a balanced meal containing a protein, usually chicken, beef, lamb or pork and three different vegetables for variety and nutritional value.
Interestingly, the meal doesn’t usually mention a major carbohydrate other than something like mashed or roast potatoes but traditionally, families would enjoy sliced bread with butter alongside their main dinner plate. Today, seafood often makes an appearance as the ‘meat’ portion of the dish.
Here are some ways you can enjoy a modern take on ‘meat and 3 veg’ and feel like you’re eating a proper Aussie dinner:
Don’t be fooled; Milo has been around for more than 80 years and was actually created to supplement children’s diets because in the Great Depression of the 1930s, children were not consuming enough nutrients.
Milo is still made in the very same factory where it was first produced in 1934 and the recipe has always remained unchanged through all those decades.
Milo is enjoyed by adults as much as children because it’s a nostalgic reminder of after school snacks. Milo is a chocolate and malt powder that is stirred into cold or hot milk to make a delicious drink. Beyond drinking it however, there are a myriad of ways that Aussies consume Milo.
If you’re not familiar with bush tucker, its classic reference is any food that is native to Australia and is or was used as nourishment by indigenous Aussies.
These days, however, bush tucker ingredients have become fashionable and are used in upmarket restaurants by famous chefs.
Dishes start with herbs and spices found in the outback and include native fruits, nuts and vegetables and extends to indigenous animals such as saltwater crocodiles, emus, kangaroos, wallabies and even goannas.
Visit a farmers’ market and you are likely to find such ingredients. Spices will include mountain pepper and aniseed myrtle and your fruit basket will contain quandongs (also known as ‘native peaches’), bush tomatoes, snowberries and finger limes.
Macadamia nuts make a wonderful alternative to peanuts in satays. Be sure to try a kangaroo steak or kangaroo sausages. All of these ingredients are increasingly finding their way into mainstream stores or markets and recipes abound on the internet to show you how to use them.
Aussie Damper – A simple, Australian unleavened bread that is traditionally made on camping trips because it is baked in the hot coals of the campfire. Break apart with your hands then slather with real butter and a drizzle of golden syrup. Enjoy with a hot cup of billy tea.
Billy Tea – The type of tea you use is as important as the location and the ritual of drinking the tea itself. Tea bags are prohibited because billy tea is the stuff of legends and can only be truly made in a ‘billy can’ using proper black tea leaves. It can be consumed with or without milk and sugar.
Lamingtons – Available in most bakeries and supermarkets right across the country, lamingtons are a world-famous Aussie sweet treat with a history that goes back more than a hundred years. They are a square of sponge cake dipped in thin chocolate icing so that the cake absorbs it, then rolled in desiccated coconut.
Pavlova – Both Australia and New Zealand lay claim to the pavlova’s origin but nonetheless, it is enjoyed by Australians at many special occasions. It is a meringue concoction heavily covered in fresh whipped cream and decorated with fresh fruits, traditionally banana, mango, strawberries and passionfruit.
The American super-channel created this list of 40 foods Australians call their own.
To really understand what it is to be Australian, it’s important to explore the local cuisine. It could be as simple as Vegemite on toast for breakfast, Tim Tams dunked in your coffee or adding a slice of canned beetroot to your burger.
Or, seek out restaurants that offer fully-fledged bush tucker or even go into the outback where tour operators will be only too happy to show you where you can sample real bush foods, straight from the tree or the creek!