Four retro recipes from Kooking with a Koori by TikTok star Nathan Lyons

Nathan Lyons began cooking comforting dishes at a young age.
Nathan Lyons began cooking comforting dishes at a young age. Photo: Janie Barrett

He's the Koori cook from western Sydney known for giving bully beef and Keen's curry new life on social media.

Raised by a single mum in Sydney's inner suburbs, Wiradjuri man Nathan Lyons began cooking cheap and comforting dishes at a young age.

He learnt the recipes from his nan and aunties, as well as other family members of Hungarian and New Zealand heritage.

Now Lyons uses those same skills to feed his family of eight and share his recipes on TikTok, where his cooking videos have chalked up nearly 2 million likes.

Here he shares four affordable dinner ideas from his new cookbook Kooking with a Koori.

Kooking with a Koori by Nathan Lyons, Simon & Schuster Australia
Curried sausages
Cookbook by Nathan Lyons
Photo credit: Simon & Schuster Australia
Single use print and online

Swap vegies in or out to suit your family's tastes. Photo: Simon & Schuster Australia

Curried sausages

A Koori family classic that's been cooked for generations. A flexible meal that lets you add and remove different vegies to suit yourself.

INGREDIENTS

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  • 1 large onion
  • 2 apples
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 8 beef sausages
  • 1 tablespoon Keen's curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 cup sliced green beans
  • 2 tablespoons cream

METHOD

  1. Peel onion and slice.
  2. Peel, core and cut each apple into 8 wedges.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in ya big old favourite saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Chuck the sausages in and brown all over, remove and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining oil to pan and cook onion stirring for 3 minutes or until slightly softened.
  6. Stir in curry powder and flour, mix well. Slowly pour in stock, stirring until sauce boils and thickens.
  7. Toss apples, raisins and sausages into pan and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in beans and cream, cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Serves 4 to 6 people

Nathan Lyons, who has a TikTok profile where he demonstrates cheap and simple cooking, with a can of corned beef which was used as an army ration in the wars by Australian soldiers. 22nd April 2021 Photo: Janie Barrett

Corned beef has been popular with many people across the Pacific. Photo: Janie Barrett

Bully beef and rice

This dish is a family favourite and has fed many a hungry Koori kid. With tins of corned beef being popular to many peoples of the Pacific, bully beef and rice has been adopted by Indigenous people from all over Australia. Another dish reminiscent of the days of when fresh meat was inaccessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 340g can corned beef
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

METHOD

  1. Peel potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic. Chop into 1cm pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a large frypan over a medium heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic, cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add contents of canned corned beef into frying pan and cook stirring until all the meat, onions and garlic are well mixed.
  4. Throw in your diced potatoes and carrots and add enough water to almost cover the vegetables. Boil gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are nice and soft. While ya wait, listen to some Charlie Pride.
  5. Lastly chuck in your diced cabbage. Cook for another 5 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Season well with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve generously on a warm bed of freshly cooked rice. 

Serve 4

Koori curry chicken

The ultimate Koori classic, a traditional meal had for generations.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g chicken breast fillets
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder

METHOD

  1. Cut chicken into 2cm pieces.
  2. Peel and slice potatoes and carrot. Peel and chop onion.
  3. Heat oil in a large frypan or saucepan. Throw in the chicken and onion and fry up until chicken is lightly browned.
  4. Stir in coconut cream and curry powder and bring to a boil.
  5. Gently throw in potatoes and carrot, cover with a lid and simmer until vegetables and chicken are cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with rice.

Serves 2 to 3

Hidden vegie and chicken bake

Loaded with both hidden and visible vegetables. A comforting, filling meal, the type of recipe that becomes a family favourite.

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g chicken breast fillet
  • 400g cauliflower
  • 300g pasta (penne, spiral, shells)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 handfuls spinach
  • 40g butter
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups grated tasty cheese

METHOD

  1. Cut chicken into small, thin slices. Cut the cauliflower into florets.
  2. Cook pasta in a stockpot of boiling, salted water for about two-thirds of the suggested cooking time on packet. Drain.
  3. Heat a large frypan over a medium to high heat, add chicken and cook about 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Place cauliflower in a stockpot and cover with water, boil until tender. Stir in spinach, boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain off water. Puree cauli and spinach. (I use a stick blender to do this.)
  5. To make the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over a low to medium heat. Sprinkle over flour and cook stirring for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and stock, whisking until sauce boils and thickens, gently boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in 1½ cups of the cheese.
  6. Add the cheese sauce to the cauli puree, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Stir in pasta and chicken and mix well. Tip the pasta mix into a large greased ovenproof dish, sprinkle over remaining grated cheese.
  8. Bake in oven at 170C fan-forced (180C conventional) for 30 to 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.

Serves 6 to 8

This is an edited extract from Kooking with a Koori by Nathan Lyons (Simon & Schuster Australia). RRP $24.99. Buy now