Thyme Beef Burger with Cantal Cheese

Having lived in Brunei for a couple of years when I was a teenager, I am following the news of how the Sultan of Brunei is implementing the penal code of the Sharia Law. I was utterly amazed when I first read about it, and I still am so.

At the time when I was living there, a few Islamic impositions were in place. The sales of alcoholic drinks were prohibited. The entry of alcoholic drinks into the country for personal use by non-Muslims was heavily regulated. They were big on ensuring that the Muslims did not eat our haram foods. Despite the fact that Brunei is geographically located in a hot and humid tropical country, Muslim women were obliged to wear a veil and clothes that kept them well covered. And so on. One could think that all this is quite menial compared to what’s to come.

It was common knowledge that the Sultan, who at that time was the richest man in the world, toppled himself off that status by living his overly lavished lifestyle. His palaces were furnished in gold furniture. His collection of over 200 horses lived in air conditioned stables. He had a massive collection of Rolls Royce cars. He would throw the most amazing parties, especially when he was overseas, where it was a known fact that alcoholic drinks were in abundance.

Above all, it was well known that the Sultan and his brother had a harem of beautiful women from many nationalities. I read this article today from The Daily Beast, written by one of the women from the harem herself. Her article reflects in great precision my amazement at how somebody that gives women as a gift for his brother’s harem now decides to put in place such a law.

Ok, let’s go onto some happier thoughts, like with some homemade thyme beef burger with French Cantal cheese. This post was supposed to feature a lasagna recipe, but the usual thing happened. I was short on time so I made burgers with the minced beef instead.

Thyme burger with Cantal cheese

Thyme Beef Burger with Cantal Cheese


600g minced beef, thyme, 1 clove garlic, 1 egg, 2 teaspoons flour, salt, black pepper, Cantal cheese, 1 teaspoon olive oil, chapata bread, lettuce, 1 tomato, mustard

Cut the garlic into very small pieces. Mix the minced beef, thyme, garlic, egg, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Shape the burgers.

Slice the Cantal cheese.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Cook the burgers for about 5 minutes on each side. Add the cheese while the burgers are still being cooked if you like them melted.

Serve on some bread with lettuce, tomatoes and mustard, or with other garnishes of your choice.

Thank you for reading!

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  1. Adelina 2014-05-12 at 00:05

    Thank you for this cultural lesson 🙂 I love how you introduce your food and recipes. You are an amazing lady 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:10

      Thanks Adelina, you are so kind! I just like introducing other concepts apart from a recipe, thats all 🙂 xx

  2. Bunny Eats Design 2014-05-12 at 00:49

    I visited Brunei a few years ago. It was interesting but no for me. I already felt that it would be too repressive for a longer visit, sharia law seems very odd, uncalled for and a huge leap backwards.

    We felt very safe there and saw nothing that would indicate that tightening up on laws and on crime was necessary.

    Maybe there is Brunei the country as represented to the world and then Brunei the real country?

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:16

      You visited Brunei? Where you visiting someone? I mean, when I lived there tourism was non-existent so one would only go there for work or to visit someone. (ok, I didn’t work there but I did have to follow my parents around the world…). I think applying the Sharia law calls for a leap backwards too. Well what you say is true, life was safe, everything was quite boring really. I think you saw the real Brunei.

      1. Bunny Eats Design 2014-05-13 at 21:23

        We flew via Brunei to Kota Kinabalu, so decided to be tourists there. You are right, hardly any tourists. We visited a couple of mosques and went on a river cruise. I remember it being so hot but everyone was wearing lots of clothes.

        It was my best friends birthday the next day so we had planned it so we would be out of Brunei quickly so we could celebrate her birthday with a drink!

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 21:44

          Haha so you managed the drink. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss out on any more mayor sites 😉 I also remember thinking how could they all cope in the heat with all those clothes. Mind you, obviously I had to dress modestly there.

          1. Bunny Eats Design 2014-05-14 at 00:52

            We dressed modestly too and I carried a big scarf for visiting mosques. We didn’t get to interact with any locals but had a friendly taxi driver. We were amazed how expensive the taxi was! I wonder if maybe the locals do not use taxis or the have a local price and a tourist price?

            1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-14 at 01:03

              People are usually very friendly 🙂 I don’t remember having gone on any taxis there, nor have seen any. Well there is not much population, everyone had a car and there are hardy any tourists, so maybe there are hardly any taxis either. So maybe it’s just that the locals don’t use taxis.

              1. Bunny Eats Design 2014-05-14 at 03:45

                Yes, with petrol and cars subsidized, I imagine we might have been his only fare for the day, hence they must increase prices in order to make a living.

  3. Sunny 2014-05-12 at 00:59

    Hey Sofia, thanks for sharing what you know about Brunei! That’s some interesting insight (and very ironic as well)!

    The burger looks goood! I’ve tried to make burgers on my own, but they never turned out right! I’m not too sure what’s missing! One difference I noticed in the recipe is you use flour instead of bread crumbs. Is that what makes it work better? Got to give it a go sometime 😉

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:18

      Oh yeah, iconic indeed!
      I’ve never made a burger with bread crumbs, so I can’t compare. But I just find making burgers so quick and easy (and way better than store bought). Give it a try with flour to see if it suits you 🙂

  4. Amanda 2014-05-12 at 03:03

    Muy interestante. No se mucho sobre Brunei, pero estoy muy familiar con Sharia. En la escuela de derechos que asisti, lo estudie. Es una sistema muy compleja e interesante. Tu burger me parece muy rico. El tomillo con el queso ananden mucho al sabor. Yum!

  5. Patty Nguyen 2014-05-12 at 03:25

    I’m totally lovin’ your beef and cheese ratio. That’s definitely my kind of burger! As for the Sultan…he can go shove some beef and cheese up his you know where. 😉

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:22

      Hahaha, the burger is actually big in real life, so imagine the chunk of cheese!
      Agreed to what you think of the Sultan 😉

  6. lapetitecasserole 2014-05-12 at 04:44

    You’ve lived in Brunei too??? What an interesting life ! Btw your burger and cheese sandwich look really yummy!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:23

      Yeah I have,.. it was a bit boring then, but amazing when I think about it now.
      The burger and cheese was so 🙂

  7. Karen 2014-05-12 at 13:01

    Nothing like a good burger!

  8. Lignum Draco 2014-05-12 at 15:30

    I know people who went to Brunei to work because of the cash incentive. I wonder if knowledge of new Sharia Law would have deterred them? In a strange land, it can be so easy to misinterpret/break the law.

  9. Helen @ Scrummy Lane 2014-05-12 at 17:34

    Interesting, Sofia. You have lived in so many places!
    As for the burger, that’s something that I keep meaning to try making for myself, but never quite get around to it. Yours looks very tasty indeed!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:24

      Go for it, burgers are so quick and easy to make. And of course homemade burgers are amazing!!

  10. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward 2014-05-13 at 01:17

    Sofia, this looks amazing. What side-dish do you recommend? YUMMMMMMMMMY with the French canal cheese. Of course, your Sultan anecdote was interesting… you keep us on our toes and interested. Not that the succulent burger wasn’t juicy and gorgeous enough to peak my interest, haha. 🙂 xx

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:25

      Yeah the Sultan tidbits are always “juicy” 😉
      You need to try the burger too Shanna! xxx

  11. Michelle 2014-05-13 at 04:13

    Your burger looks great. As for the rest … words fail, don’t they? (And is there anywhere you haven’t lived??)

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:26

      Oh yeah, more words fail..
      Seriously, I haven’t been to the States nor Africa. Though not being in the States may be remedied later on this year… (exciting!).

  12. pianolearner 2014-05-13 at 15:37

    I presumed it was a fairly liberal country, given what I knew about him and his fleet of aircraft.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-14 at 00:33

      It’s the least liberal country I’ve lived in (though not been to, where Iran gets the crown). When I lived there, documentaries were released in the UK regarding his crazy parties and what not. These documentaries where prohibited in Brunei. We knew because some friends of ours taped them when they were in England.

  13. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2014-05-13 at 20:46

    Agree with you, Sofia, homemade burgers are amazing! About Brunei, how sad that in the 21st century all this oppression exists. It reminds me of a comment made by a Spaniard when we lived in Spain. He said that during Generalisimo Franco’s rule, he kept the order quite well, as there was no graffiti anywhere. Yes, but the oppression was palpable! It’s like saying in the U.S. A. saying, “I wish for the good old days” when those days were not so good–for blacks or minorities, including women! Oy vey…

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-13 at 20:54

      Yeah, oh hey… Which reminds me I can tell you that a while back someone graffitied on our walls outside. Within less than 48 hours it was gone. Our ayuntamiento automatically got rid of it. And never did I feel “oppressed” with our little bit of graffiti either 😉

  14. laurasmess 2014-05-14 at 08:40

    Ohhhhh yummm!! I love a good burger, particularly one that’s got oozy melted cheese as part of the combination! This one looks amazing. The sultan info is pretty cool… I have been to Brunei, twice! But didn’t exit the airport (so that probably doesn’t count, haha!). I amazed by the excess of his lifestyle… air conditioned stables? Far out. You’ve made me interested to read more! x

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-18 at 10:39

      The burger was great! 🙂 Haha yeah., I’ve been to Istanbul 4 time but didn’t exit the airport either, though I wish I could have had the opportunity! I lived on the other side of Brunei (only a 2 hour drive from the capital, thats how small the country is) and I remember in the road that joins both cities, you could actually see this horse collection perfectly. xx


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