Cengiz Tekin is a Turk who has chosen to live in Malaysia because he loves Malaysian culture and food. However, he also loves, and misses, Turkish food, especially his Mom’s cooking. So, he frequently creates Turkish dishes for himself and his friends, based on his Mom’s recipes and old Ottoman recipes. These homemade feasts have led his friends to encourage him to share the tasty delights of Turkish and Ottoman cuisine with others. Thus, Barefoot in Thyme has been born.
Cengiz’s mission is to introduce Malaysians to the diversity of Turkish and Ottoman cuisine, which is not the food most tourists in Turkey get served. The food at tourist-oriented restaurants gives the impression that Turkish food is all kebabs, pilav, and Baklava. So not true! Barefoot in Thyme’s focus is on the foods that were served in Ottoman Palaces. These dishes are rarely offered in Turkish restaurants.
The center of Ottoman Palace cuisine was Constantinople, now Istanbul, and the Imperial Court. Ottoman Palace cuisine dates to Sultan Mehmet II, conqueror of Constantinople in 1453. It brings together elements of local and regional dishes enjoyed by the Turks as they traversed Asia and Anatolia in establishing their empire. After conquering Constantinople and establishing the center of the Ottoman Empire there, Mehmet II filled his kitchens with specialist chefs brought to his Court from different parts of the empire. They were to experiment with different ingredients combining them with the best of the regional dishes. The result was a culinary tradition of new dishes unique to the Palace, dishes that brought together elements of regional cuisines from across the empire. It is a cuisine influenced by Chinese, Iranian, Arab, Byzantine, Mediterranean, and later European, worlds. In Ottoman Palace cuisine the same ingredients can produce up to 30 different dishes all of which taste different depending on the spices used, how they are combined, and how they are cooked. As the Ottoman Empire continued, the Palace chefs began creating special dishes for succeeding Sultans.
Geography, the different seasons, and climate all influence Ottoman Palace Cuisine. It is also based on the belief that nutrition and health are connected. Ottoman Palace food focuses on seasonal ingredients thus promoting good health throughout the year. It makes liberal use of herbs and spices that are high in vitamins, minerals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil, which is also high in antioxidants, is the main ingredient of most Ottoman Palace dishes. This promotes a healthy heart, healthy skin, and healthy hair. Finally, the Ottoman Palace cuisine is heavily vegetarian and vegan. Meat is used, but it is rarely the main focus of a dish.
Cengiz’s original recipes unite the food he grew up within his Mom’s kitchen, with old Ottoman dishes in a unique, personal and authentic combination.
In addition to a focus on Ottoman Palace cuisine, Barefoot in Thyme wants to introduce Malaysia to healthy Turkish street food and snacks. Snacks such as Almonds on Ice, Pickle juice, Bulgur Patties, and Simits, crunchy sesame encrusted ring of bread. Street food such as fish sandwiches, gozleme (a crepe stuffed with an infinite variety of cheese, vegetables, or meat) pilav, chicken and chickpeas, stuffed mussels, and Tantuni. All of which may sound strange and exotic to the Malaysian palate, but which are healthy, nutritious, delicious, and quintessentially Turkish.
Barefoot in Thyme uses only the highest quality ingredients with no chemicals, preservatives, or fillers, all sourced from small vendors whom we know personally, in any food we prepare or sell. There is no substitution for quality.
While Barefoot in Thyme is not a restaurant, there are several ways you can enjoy the best that Turkish and Ottoman cuisine has to offer.
1. An online shop where you can not only purchase our quality ingredients but can also purchase ready-made meals of your choice which we will deliver to your door.
2. Small catered events for special occasions, e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc., again with a menu of your choosing.
3. Tasting events that we provide in conjunction with other activities, e.g. mediation and yoga classes.
We look forward to introducing you to authentic Turkish and Ottoman cuisine, to working with you in providing unique and delicious food to you and your guests, to meeting you at one of our events, and to serving you on our website.