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People Salad

Updated: Jun 20

I have the pleasure of making a lunch in an old cropping paddock for Dja Dja Wurrung people, the traditional owners of the land where I live.

A collaboration of the Djandak Enterprises team and Latrobe University Earth Sciences, this paddock has been sown with trial crops of kangaroo grass varieties, a four year program to determine the best form for this climate and situation.

There is a focus on sustainable grain yield.

This project is titled Djandak Dja Kunditja, Country Healing its Home.

In a thoughtful and inspiring introduction, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal CEO Rodney Carter, explains the strategy is to show conventional Western farmers the commercial viability of native vegetation cropping, so they will also assume the long-term task of reimagining this landscape.

It is a visionary approach and I hope the final testing results will match the human energy on display here today. I also hope to be in the line sometime, to learn to make flour from this grass seed, to bake bread, and to sing songs to our future………

We have harvested, grown and used local native food plants for many years, but I never wanted to talk about it here, feeling that it wasn’t proper, not my story to tell.

But after coming to better understand the Dja Dja Wurrung vision, I feel we have a joint role in helping to realise their aims. And happy to do so.

Like kangaroo grass, karkalla is widely spread across the continent , mostly south, and thrives in many different climates, from the coast to the mountains high.

An enormous source of dietary fibre, karkalla also contains large quantities of calcium, iron and sodium. It can be quite astringent, not to everybody’s taste in raw form, so I highly recommend the blanching technique listed below. They are very hardy and can easily withstand this process.

Choose potatoes that are waxy in nature, such as Nicola, Dutch Cream, Kipler, Pink Fir.

Tender native pepper leaves are best. You can use dried and crumbled leaves or roughly crushed berries if fresh pepper is not available.


  • 2k salad potatoes

  • 1 cup karkalla fronds

  • 10 fresh pepper leaves, very finely julienned

  • 40 saltbush leaves, deep fried or oven crisped

  • 1 cup cider vinegar

  • ½ cup malt vinegar

  • 2 cups olive oil

  • Salt to taste

  • A bed of lettuce


1. Leave potato skins on if possible. Steam or boil whole until just tender. Place spuds on clean teatowel to air dry for 10 minutes. While still hot, cut potatoes into golf ball size pieces, place in large bowl and splatter liberally with cider vinegar. Toss in olive oil, add seasoning, and reserve warm until needed.

2. Double blanch the karkalla. Bring a 2 litre saucepan of water to the boil. Add a pinch of salt. (This concentrates the heat energy, sustaining it when you add the vegetable). Meanwhile, trim the karkalla fronds from the vine. When boiling, tip all the leaves into the water and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from water. Repeat the process with freshly boiled water – do not re use the first lot at all. Leave to air dry 1 minute.

3. Heat and lightly oil a large frypan. Add the karkalla leaves, and stir-fry a few minutes until lightly coloured. Pour in the malt vinegar. Keep stirring as the liquid boils simmers away. Remove from heat.

4. Gently toss together the potatoes, karkalla, saltbush and native pepper. Scoop into a big bowl lined with crisp lettuce. Serve with iced mint tea.



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