Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: Kooking with a Koori, by Nathan Lyons

Nathan Lyons, the viral sensation on TikTok, is showing families that you don’t need to spend a motser to feed your hungry household.

Lyons’ aim to provide fast, budget-friendly food has been met with great success.

Social media cooking sensation Nathan Lyons is a Wiradjuri man from NSW who has garnered almost 150,000 followers on TikTok in his first year already. His booming popularity is from part humour and part genius, feeding his own family of 8 for just $8 apparently.

Kooking with a Koori delivers over 200 pages of these cutthroat meals that vary from the super healthy to homemade fast food, with many specifically highlighted as “cheap eats”. Whether it’s scrambled eggs or Pad Thai, the range of dishes is commendable. There are a lot of hacks to be found for much loved recipes and a few extra curiosities to try.

The paperback is as straightforward as Lyons’ two-page introduction–there are no glossy pictures to make you feel inadequate when your meal turns out looking nothing like the image. It’s just straight-out recipe after recipe, and when the very first chapter delivers more than 20 “Devon Delights” (called “Fritz” in South Australia), you know this cookbook has set itself apart from the rest.

Lyons’ instructions are super easy to follow, using short dot points and a decently sized font. Each recipe includes the number of serves and any other pertinent information, such as highlighting vegetarian or vegan recipes. The final chapter on Basics includes useful kitchen hacks and how to cook the perfect steak or scrambled eggs, along with making your own pizza base, garlic bread, baked beans and sauces.

There is a chapter of Indigenous Favourites, incorporating Australian and New Zealand meals, with all recipes quickly identified under the useful headings in the index.

This is a marvellous cookbook, ideal for both a beginner and more seasoned family cook. It equally serves a household of people or an individual, and is particularly practical for those who are time-poor. Lyons’ aim to provide fast, budget-friendly food has been met with great success.

Curried Lentil and Vegetable (page 67)

This recipe serves four but was easily adapted to serve twice that many at a dinner party. It’s a “quick, healthy and delicious vegetarian soup”. I also ensured mine was gluten-free by substituting a packet of soup vegetables with fresh vegetables, and using canned lentils instead of packet lentils. My adaptations added a bit of extra time to peel and chop the veges, but even with that extra work, this soup was quick and easy to make. I had enough left over for an extra few bowls after most of my brew was lapped up by my appreciative guests. I thought it was quite delicious, but my guests thought even more highly of it, with a few of them asking for the recipe. No higher compliment could be given.

Slow Cooker Kangaroo Curry (page 103)

Having never cooked kangaroo myself, I was keen to try out “Australia’s first fast food”. As a lean meat, it was perfect for my diet, and the slow cooker is always an easy option when preparing for guests that night. The only difficultly in this recipe is the instruction to add “curry powder, to taste”. All other measurements were precise. As someone who rarely uses a pre-mixed curry powder, I was at a loss for how much would be required. This resulted in some apprehension and, towards the end of the cooking time, a couple of taste tests resulted in having to add more curry powder. Thankfully, the final result was worth the minor stress and like most curries, it tasted even better the next day. I served this one on a bed of cauliflower rice for an extra health kick and will most definitely be making it again.

Classic Garlic Bread (page 232)

Probably the only thing I like more than meatballs is garlic bread, so it’s surprising that I have never attempted to make my own. It could be because I’m on a perpetual diet, but the temptation was too much to skip over this quick and easy recipe. A couple of the ingredients surprised me in this one, and I did find the end result a touch too salty, although it still tasted great. I wouldn’t hesitate to whip this up again, but without seasoning it with salt. The bread also cooked much faster than expected, as you can see by my crunchy effort in the photo above! Keep an eye on it in the oven! To quote the author, it was “Lubly lah!”

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Released: 7 July 2021
RRP: $24.99 paperback

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