Carlton North favourite permanently switches up its look to meet growing demand
After a very tumultuous time for many Melbourne hospitality operators, Babajan owner Kirsty Chiaplias has decided to permanently change Babajan’s layout to a takeaway Turkish heaven filled to the brim with her delicious food that has won over locals’ hearts over the years. When the city went into its first lockdown, Babajan quickly pivoted into a takeaway store. Kirsty did not expect much trade during that time, however the opposite happened, and customers were super supportive. Maybe her Turkish and Middle Eastern creations were best when served in the comfort of people’s homes after all.
Now when customers walk in, they are greeted with huge floor to ceiling timber bakery shelving that spans the length of the shop, housing boreks, simits, bread and pastries. The original front counter has also been extended with a long straight concrete bench to display their salads, Turkish-inspired sandwiches and cakes.
“The pandemic has brought on a lot of stress and pressure, but it also enabled me to change things in my business that I have wanted to for a long time. I’m really excited to get this off the ground and for people to come and enjoy the new look Babajan” says Kirsty.
Since opening in 2016, Babajan has become a cult classic, not only to locals but on an international scale, gaining a prestigious nod in the New York Times for its modern Turkish and Middle Eastern fare.
The space will still be full to the brim of Kirsty’s delicious creations, just now ready for you to take home and enjoy with your friends and family. There will be a range of brand-new dishes available, including more family meals to enjoy, including trays of eggplant or lamb moussaka, boreks, 12-hour braised lamb shoulders and more. There will also be a weekly changing soup to pick up, like a Mercimek – a soup made with red lentils.
For those wanting to spice up their working from home lunch, Babajan’s new range of takeaway sandwiches will definitely hit the spot, including their new Balik Ekmek, a traditional Turkish fish sandwich complete with cos, mint and sumac onions. For something lighter, a salad of braised beans, rice pilaf, almonds, herbs and currants might do the trick.
“I don’t want to modernise flavours and change up techniques too much. Sometimes there’s a reason why traditional flavours are so tasty. There’s no need to always change them up too much. However, I am serving my sandwiches in Australian sourdough, that’s something you’d never find in Turkey,” laughs Kirsty.
The new look Babajan will also mean more space for high quality and hard to find Turkish and Middle Eastern pantry items, like harissa, Aleppo, za’atar, and zhug. There will also be more everyday staples like olive oil, cheese, butter and olives, as well as fresh produce available, making it easier for locals to bypass the supermarket. “I really want it to become a one-stop shop for people. They might not be able to sit down and enjoy the eggplant Aleppo toastie, but they can buy the jar of Aleppo, a loaf of sourdough, eggs and pickles to recreate it at home,” says Kirsty.
The new refrigerated sections will also house Babajan’s delicious dips, including carrot ezme, babaganoush and hummus. For something sweeter, the ever-changing cake display, including meringues with pistachio and rose and baked cheesecakes with cardamom and berries might be hard to ignore. And, the new ‘Babajan Bottleshop’ section houses classic whites and reds to enjoy a tipple at home with the delicious takeaway fare – truly making it a one-stop (Turkish) shop delight.
(03) 9388 9814
Monday to Sunday, 8am–3pm
For those not wanting to venture out, babajan.com.au has an online store for delivery and pick up at a 10% discount.
Images: Arianna Leggiero