For Mount Martha local Laura Hindson, it was her father-in-law who planted the seed for her business, Madame Tiger.
As a health-conscious home cook, Laura is always on the lookout for wholesome foods to fuel her family. When her father-in-law introduced her to tiger nuts – a dietary staple growing up in West Africa – she was intrigued – and impressed.
Used as a snack food and a base for milk and flour, these tiny morsels pack a nutritional punch. They’re high in fibre, iron, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The Original Tiger Nut Milk recipe that Laura developed has a nutritional panel that mirrors that of traditional cow’s milk.
Despite the name, they’re not actually nuts, and they definitely aren’t from a feline. They’re tubers or root vegetables, similar to sweet potatoes. They’re also a sustainable crop with a low climate footprint, needing only rainwater to grow. Yet, despite their glowing credentials, they remain hard to find in Australia.
Having previously headed up the marketing team at a major kombucha brand, Laura was no stranger to the food and beverage industry. She’d seen a flurry of alternative milks flooding the market in recent years, but few could stack up against tiger nuts in terms of taste, nutrition or sustainability. The idea had well and truly germinated, she was all in.
The first step was hunting down tiger nut crops that were sustainably farmed and could be ethically imported. Enter Mousso Faso, a female farming collective in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Meaning ‘homeland of the wholehearted woman’ – Mousso Faso operates as a cooperative to cut out the middle man and sell their harvest directly to international customers. By banding together, the group have been able to secure fair pay and better working conditions for their families. It was a win-win for the environment, for the farmers, and for the long-term viability of Madame Tiger.
Together with her partner Yacouba and brother Daniel, they leased a small factory and set to work building a production line. With plenty of tinkering and more than a few tears, they perfected their recipe and began streamlining the manufacturing process. The team now wash, soak, mill and filter the tiger nuts in-house, before the milk is sent off for bottling.
Having their own facilities means they’re able to ensure the product is entirely allergen free, and therefore safe for those with nut, soy, dairy and gluten allergies. Whilst many plant-based milks contain fillers or industrial seed oils, Madame Tiger uses Australian extra virgin olive oil. It’s a clear indication that for Laura, it’s the quality – not the cost – that counts.
The result is creamy, nutty, and incredibly smooth, and it won’t curdle or split in your morning latte. As for the packaging? Each carton is covered with a different abstract print by two West African artists.
“Milk is a habitual thing, we tend to order our morning coffee on autopilot. But I’d encourage everyone to step outside their comfort zone and give it a try. It’s an incredibly sustainable option made with incredibly clean and thoughtful ingredients.” says Laura.
Keen to try Madame Tiger for yourself? You’ll find them on shelves (and in milk pitchers) at Tully’s Corner Store in Moorooduc, Corner Counter and Mr Jackson in Mornington, Horribly Healthy in Somerville, A Good Little Thing in Tootgarook, and Honey and Sol in Rye.