There are only a handful of Turkish delight brands out there; the most recognisable to many Australian households is packaged up in a white box labelled ‘Turkish Delight’, and bordered with a red and golden Turkish motif.
The Pektuzun family have been the ones behind the business since they started, Real Turkish Delight or RT Delight, in 1974 producing these boxes of lokum, Turkish delight, a gelatinous sweet confectionery that has been indulgently consumed since the days of the Ottoman Empire.
It all began with the manual pot stirring hands of Bahattin Pektuzun, who missed eating the confectionery after he migrated to Australia in 1970 with his wife, daughter, and two sons, and found that the Turkish delight available then wasn’t the same as he recalled.
After working two factory jobs for four years, the former accountant began experimenting making his own Turkish delight in the home kitchen before opening the first shop in Flemington. He later moved the shop 10 years later to Sydney’s Auburn, which back then had a growing Turkish community.
“Dad got sick of working at the factory and couldn’t work as an accountant when he moved to Australia because he couldn’t speak English,” Ediz said of his father.
Bahattin learned the original tricks of the trade back in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, during the days as a young boy where he worked at a confectionery store after school to earn some extra pocket money.
Ediz (Eddie) and his older brother Bulent (Bill) Pektuzun now run the business after their father, Bahattin, passed away at the age of 80 in 2006.
“Dad use to put a lot of time in the business; all the credit goes to him. He was a hard working man who worked long hours and scarified a lot for his family,” Ediz said.
By hand, Bahttin use to take four hours stirring sugar and cornstarch until it was the right consistency. These days, machines are stirring the copper pots over a gas burner. “We still make Turkish delight the traditional way but use machines instead,” Ediz said.
He noted that unlike other products in the market, no gelatin is used as part of the ingredient mix. “It’s not a matter of just mixing the ingredients together; there’s a lot work involved, and getting the right texture is the most important thing to making Turkish delight.”
Ediz was responsible for taking the brand out to wholesalers and other retailers, and recalled the business’ first big customer win was David Jones.
“It was very nerve racking but an honour to deal with a customer like that. I went in and did some sampling in the store to try promote the product.
“Our first responses were ‘I hate Turkish Delight’ but when they tried ours they said it was different. We then started to deal with other customers and wholesalers, and gradually grew the business that way,” he said.
Ediz and his brother now produce up to 80 tonnes of Turkish delight a year at the back of the shopfront. In the retail area, the finished products of Turkish delight from original rose flavour to chocolate and nut covered ones are on display.
Real Turkish Delight
1/3-5 Station St, Auburn