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Community Cook - September

September is an amazing time for diversity in the Top End – for both people and produce.

By Emma Lupin

The long Dry has meant a peak growing time for a huge variety of drier, cooler loving crops, such as zucchini, tomato, capsicum and squash – and these go in perfect combination with all year favourites, such as green pawpaw, chilli and eggplant. 

September is a great time to jar tomatoes as sauce or just chopped while they are abundant before the humidity kicks in and they start to die back.

The same goes for all the lovely Dry season crops – use them up while you can!

Look out at your local markets and gardens for all these wonderful  in-season veggies.

Taste of the Top End is looking for community cooks to share recipes.  
If you have a recipe to share using local produce, please get in touch via

Roasted rainbow of green pawpaw & VEGGIE

Serves 3–4
Olive or coconut oil
1 cm ginger, peeled & finely chopped 
1 small bunch spring onions or garlic chives, chopped
500g green (but just about to turn) pawpaw, cubed
2 long eggplants, cubed
1 long red chilli, whole
3 tomatoes
1 capsicum, cubed, or  1–2 tomatoes, cubed
1 medium zucchini, cubed, or 3–4 yellow or green squash
1 small leaf five-in-one herb  
(tropical oregano or Spanish sage)
1 small bunch lemon or purple basil, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Heat a little oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the ginger and spring onion or garlic chives and cook until soft.

Add the pawpaw and cook for 3–4 minutes. Add the eggplant, chilli, capsicum and/or tomatoes and zucchini or squash, increase the heat to high and stir-fry for two minutes or until lightly browned.

Toss through the five-in-one leaf and basil, reserving some basil for garnish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the paw-paw and vegetables to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Serve warm in bowls garnished with the reserved basil.

Emma Lupin is a tropical plant specialist and local food enthusiast with a passion for sustainable living and community connection. She is an environmental educator and artist and encourages connection to the beautiful natural world, particularly our tropical home. FOLLOW | @tasteofthetopend

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