A recent visit home to Queensland would not have been complete without driving through the Bunya laden mountain areas of the Sunshine Coast via the iconic and beautiful areas of Eumundi and Yandina. Watch your head though, when it's a bumper season in the Bunya Mountains (Boobarran Ngummin), there are Bunya knobs falling from a great height all over the place!
With a subtle flavour similar to chestnuts, the Bunya nut (or Gummingurra as it is traditionally known by the Gubi Gubi people of the SE Hinterlands) is in fact not really a nut at all, but a fantastic source of starchy carbohydrates. Aboriginal people of South east Queensland survived and thrived off Bunya nuts for many centuries and to this day still use them to prepare traditional nut cakes and breads. The Bunya mountain reserves are in fact managed by the Bunya Murri Ranger project, whose custodians continue to have a strong spiritual and cultural connection to the mountains.
Nutritionally Bunya nuts are made up mostly of water and complex carbohydrates, with a touch of protein and magnesium. They are gluten free though, so perfect for making gluten free bread.
It is hard to get great fresh Bunya nuts in Western Australia and often the frozen product is utilised. However, keep your eyes open for the giant trees and knobs in local botanical parks and random areas throughout the City of Vincent and the City of Perth.
In the RiverMint kitchen we particularly like to roast and salt thinly sliced Bunya nuts as a garnish or ground up and used in a bunya vanilla cake, similar to using almond meal. Pureed it needs some decent roasting and seasoning to avoid losing its delicate flavour.
Bunya nuts pair really well with mild seafood such as scallops as well as vegetarian dishes containing sweet corn or green leafy vegetables. And they are especially good in parmesan cheese biscuits!
If you are visiting Queensland's Sunshine Coast I would highly recommend learning more about these amazing trees and the historical, cultural and spiritual connections that they embody . The annual Bunya Dreaming festival, held every Australia Day, would be the perfect place to start!