Opinion piece: Food in contemporary Timor Leste

by Sonia Guterres

Food has been an essential part of our lives in Timor Leste and shapes our modern day gastronomy. Without nutritious food, we can’t grow to be healthy or even survive. The first time I worked with Mana Heidi was a unique experience, especially when talking about food and how much she loves the food in Timor. In the first few weeks of our conversation about food was fantastic and for Heidi, the food in Timor Leste is something special. Trying out the food in a restaurant in the corner of Dili provided us a delicious meal, and gives tourists like Mana Heidi the opportunity to taste local food.

Continue reading “Opinion piece: Food in contemporary Timor Leste”


My last night in Timor Leste. I imagine it is not the last night I’ll ever be here, not now that I’ve fallen madly for this country. Tonight we sat down to a farewell dinner feast of seaweed salad, a tuna and tomato pasta, and a delicious dish called tukkir. Tukkir cemented my curiosity of Timorese cuisine on my trip two years ago, and it is a dish that is as special to cook as it is to eat. Continue reading “Farewell…”

Island time: Atauro Island…

IMG_2900The sun has slipped over the horizon. It takes me a full minute to realise this, even though I’ve been watching the sky change colour. Now the sky is a delicate blue and pink. I’ve done nothing but swim, eat, snorkel and read historical fiction. My skin is dry with salt and my skin is browner than it was three days ago. There are tan marks on my feet from my Birkenstocks and the scalding Timorese sun.

Continue reading “Island time: Atauro Island…”


Staying calm. I’m anxious about the dSep 16 008ays ahead because I worry that they may simply not happen if things come up for the women…as they do for all of us at anytime, of course, quashing plans. But please, not today. Or tomorrow. I’m also feeling frustrated with myself because I should be able to see past this concern and focus on planning how I’ll video and cook, what ingredients I’ll need, which language to use and when, how to make women on film feel at ease, what to film and how much commentary to give, what I need stills of…

Continue reading “Nerves”

Culinary Conversation: More than just cooking

There’s something special about cooking with lots of people.cooking

Tonight we’ve been making naan karau — a buffalo stew with vegetables — with around eight to 10 people in the indoor and outdoor kitchens, sitting in between and outside. Some of us have been cooking (I’m learning how to cut buffalo, fry chips and cook over a fire) and others…cleaning as we go. Continue reading “Culinary Conversation: More than just cooking”

Aguasal: Portuguese Fish Soup

vegesToday I ate more papaya, was given fresh mangoes from a tree, ate a guava from Berta’s tree in her yard, and saw a giant jackfruit (also known as breadfruit) tree at a friend’s place.  An ex-pat here tells me the passionfruit is good right now so I’ll pick some up in the next few days.

Dinner tonight was Agosal, or Portugese Fish Soup. Not that I’ve cooked fish quite like this before. Continue reading “Aguasal: Portuguese Fish Soup”

Bananas, Papaya, Laughter and more…

bananasI love the fruit in Timor Leste. The sweetness of bananas and zing of grapefruits are two (very simple) reasons that I’ve returned to this spectacular country!

Yesterday, I visited the home of a Timorese friend, Anita. Her backyard has a banana tree that towers over the household kitchen sink. There are young bananas on the tree and my dear friend Vina suggests we cook with them later this week.

Alright – I’m in.

Continue reading “Bananas, Papaya, Laughter and more…”


IMG_1526I don’t know whether the feeling in my stomach is because of nerves or the antimalarials. I’m thinking it’s both.

Today I’ll reach Dili, Timor Leste, also known as East Timor. I’ll be reacquainted with my Timorese older ‘sister’ and her family. We’ll spend our time cooking and I’ll be learning all about food in Timor. Continue reading “Dili.”