Who is Sikander Hayat: I am the owner of Turkish Kebab House at the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets. I have been in Australia for the past 14 years and have been running my own businesses in hospitality for the last 12.
Best recent dining experience: Probably when my family and I went to Turkish Grill in Erindale. The owners have been in business for the past 35 years and just know how to run a restaurant. They always have really good quality food and great service, and they are just so friendly. I love taking my wife and two daughters there – it’s a great place to go.
Favourite cuisine: As I come from Pakistan, I love the traditional food from my home country and I’ve grown up with it. I especially love the spices and flavours.
Most embarrassing pantry or fridge item: I don’t have anything embarrassing, but I’d probably say leftovers. I tend to keep a lot of leftover food in the fridge that I say I’ll eat the next day and I never do.
What ingredient can I not live without: Probably garlic because it’s a main ingredient that can be used in all kinds of cooking and different cultures and I really like it.
Next big thing in the Canberra food scene: I think introducing more delivery systems is something that keeps expanding and will continue to expand. And also, maybe kebab shops?
I previously owned Turkish Kebab and Pizza in Belconnen and Just Turkish in Kippax. They were both great successes, which then led me to sell and open up another kebab shop here in Fyshwick.
Favourite place for lunch in the ACT: I don’t really get a lot of time to go out for lunch, but if I’m after something quick and tasty, I love going to Ikea with my kids!
My go-to coffee spot in Canberra: I love Three Mills Bakery in Fyshwick. They’re so friendly there and they’re doing really well as a business. My family and I love their products; we always grab coffee and a snack from there.
A must-try on our menu: Our kebabs. Most of our customers come in for our kebabs and we have plenty of different options to cater to every customer. We do a chicken kebab, lamb kebab and seafood kebab with a variety of sauces to choose from.
What’s the special of the week at Turkish Kebab House: They change every Sunday, and sometimes aren’t even Turkish. The specials vary between curries, vegetable dishes, roasts, potato bakes and more.
Our most-used ingredient at Turkish Kebab House: Definitely our meat or our bread. We bake our own bread, so it’s always fresh and we always serve fresh and good quality meat.
Our most authentic dish: Probably our kebabs as it’s our most popular option. However, we do lots of traditional foods like zaatar, manoush and pide, as well as snack packs, fish and chips and pizza.
Biggest culinary influence: I know most people would say their family members, but for me, a lot of my friends have inspired and influenced me when it comes to cooking. Especially ones that moved to Australia to open their own businesses. I love how motivated they are and I’m always happy when I see their successful businesses grow.
Who I admire in the Canberra food and wine scene: I’d say Sajid Munir from Alara’s Turkish Pide House in Dickson. He has been one of my closest friends for the last 20 years, and he’s a hard-working person. We started working together when he first came to Australia in 2017 and since then, he has learned really quickly, put in the work and now runs a great business.
Where am I travelling to next: I plan on taking my wife and daughters to the Gold Coast.
Dream destination? Dubai. My brother actually lives there, and it’s less than two hours from Pakistan, so I hope to go and explore the lifestyle, the food, the culture and see the famous buildings in Dubai.
Death row meal: If I had one meal to eat, I wouldn’t be fussy, I would just go back to my country, visit my mother and have one of her home-cooked meals. I especially love her curries.
My least favourite food: There are two vegetables I don’t like – eggplant and cauliflower.
COVID-19 response: We were very lucky that the Australian Government was very supportive during this time and now things are slowly getting better and businesses are recovering. We’ve gotten back to normal hours here at the Markets, too, and we’ve even extended our hours to be open for takeaway till 8 pm to cater to the dinner time rush too.
My top three recipe tips:
- Keep good hygiene – you have to be very careful and clean when working with food.
- Use spices, but not too many. Lots of spices aren’t good for you, and if you’re cooking meat, most of the flavour should come from the meat itself, not the spices and sauces you add.
- Don’t overcook things.
Turkish Kebab House is open Thursday to Sunday, from Thursday to Saturday, 8 am to 8 pm and Sunday, 7 am to 7 pm. It is located at the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets, Unit G13/12 Dalby Street, Fyshwick.