Bunya nuts are native to Queensland and have been around what .. 200 millions years according to some natives; with trees as old as 800 years!
I remember an evening at Ben Shewry’s, where we had a spectacular Bunya Nut Pastry (at the centre of the pic) filled with Bunya Nut Ice Cream, nothing else.
Bunya nuts were an important source of food for Aboriginal people in Queensland and northern New South Wales. The gigantic Bunya Pine trees contain giant cones filled with Bunya nuts. Come January, these trees begin dropping the cones. With an average cone weighing upto as much as 10 kilos each, you sure would want to watch out for any falling cones!!
As with many a culinary civilisation, thanks to growing interest and experimentative chefs, foraging for native foods is on the rise.
These nuts are said to have had important cultural and culinary significance for the Aboriginal Australians. Traditionally they were roasted and consumed as is. But interestingly, they can be used for just about anything, from pesto sauce to dessert, like the one I mentioned above.
Here are some fun facts to process:
- Bunya cones were believed to have been eaten whole by dinosaurs! And that’s how ancient the trees are.
- Each cone can contain as many as 100 nuts
- In ancient times, at the time of nut ripening, around once every three to four years, message was sent out to neighbouring tribes to join the festival, feast on and take back these giant ‘lunchboxes’