Mabu Mabu Recipe: Pumpkin Damper

Mabu Mabu Recipe: Pumpkin Damper

For National Reconciliation Week we're celebrating Nornie Bero's Pumpkin Damper recipe featured in her bestseller Mabu Mabu!

Mabu Mabu features native produce and through her business and book, Bero's mission is to make Indigenous hers, spices, vegetables, and fruits a part of everyone's kitchen pantry. 

Pumpkin Damper 

This is an edited extract from Mabu Mabu by Nornie Bero, published by Hardie Grant Books. RRP$45.00, available in stores nationally. Photography by Armelle Habib.


Makes 1 full-sized damper, serves 4 (or 2 Island kids)


This is what I call the ‘cheat damper’; it sneaks in a serve of vegetables without you even realising it. I’m not a great vegetable eater, but I love root vegetables. The pumpkin here gives you a vibrant natural food colouring as well. This is a huge Island favourite and I’ll always remember making it with my dad.



500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Japanese pumpkin (squash), peeled and cubed

40 ml (11/4 fl oz) vegetable oil

450 g (1 lb/3 cups) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

80 g (23/4 oz) butter, at room temperature (see Notes)

1 × 50 cm (193/4 in) sheet of banana leaf (see Notes)

Golden Syrup Butter (below), or plain butter, to serve



  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
  2. Coat the pumpkin in the oil and roast in the oven until soft, almost mushy. Keep the oven on after removing the pumpkin.
  3. To a bowl, add the flour and butter and mix together by rubbing between your hands until fully combined.
  4. Add the cooled cooked pumpkin and mush together.
  5. Add 250 ml (81/2 fl oz/1 cup) water, a little at a time, and mix with your fingers until you have a nice sticky dough.
  6. Place some flour on your work surface, then knead the dough until you have a bread dough consistency. Roll into a log, then set aside.
  7. Before using your banana leaf, you need to release the oils to make it flexible and bring out the flavours. Hold the banana leaf over an open gas flame and move it across the flame in sections until the oils seep through the entire leaf. If you do not have a gas flame, place it in a dry non-stick frying pan for a few seconds on each side.
  8. Place the dough in the centre of the banana leaf. Wrap it, folding over each end, and roll it up like a burrito. Then wrap in aluminium foil using the same method.
  9. Place on the oven shelf and cook for 50–60 minutes.
  10. Serve with golden syrup butter.


Notes Banana leaves can be found fresh in many Asian markets, or frozen in Asian supermarkets.

You can use a vegan alternative to the butter here, such as Nuttelex. This works in all the damper recipes.

If you cannot source self-raising flour, you can make your own by adding 2 teaspoons baking powder to every 150 g (51/2 oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour.


Golden Syrup Butter


Makes approx. 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) or 15–20 serves


This is the numero uno sweet butter – it’s so simple, but just so delicious. Every Island person will spread a thick layer on any slice of damper or scone. Make a batch and keep it in the freezer as you’ll keep wanting more.



500 g (1 lb 2 oz/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 tablespoons golden syrup (light treacle)



  1. Make sure your butter has a spreadable consistency, but is not too soft. Blend the butter and golden syrup in a food processor until fully whipped, then wrap the butter mix in a large piece of plastic wrap.
  2. Holding both ends, roll the wrapped butter into a log.
  3. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden before using, then store in the freezer for up to 7 months.


More from Nornie Bero:

Coming from a tropical island where I would catch all my food, I had to find new ways of foraging in Melbourne. If I felt like a taste of home, I’d just go out and find it. You can forage wherever you are, whether it’s in a city or on a small island. I’d find periwinkles down at Williamstown pier and use a safety pin to pop out the sea snails and eat them with rice. I would hunt through the markets and find fresh pipis for a bargain, or head to the beach and look for samphire succulents and eat like royalty.

Australia is a multicultural platform for so many different countries, and how we share culture is through food, whether it’s Greek, Italian, Ethiopian, Turkish, Indian or Vietnamese. There’s more acceptance through food. Great food is the key to conversation and helps open people’s minds to new cultures. But, looking around Melbourne, I realised there was little understanding of Australian Indigenous food, and definitely not of Torres Strait Islander food. I knew it was time to change that.



Want to cook more recipes like this? Shop our Native Plate pack featuring Nornie Bero's Mabu Mabu and kitchen essentials with 10% off your first purchase and free delivery on all orders above $150.