Konya is known as the home of the Whirling Dervishes but better yet, they produce etliekmek, essentially a meter long pizza (Figure 1), which means bread with meat. Six of us went to a restaurant called Havzan Etliekmek near the Özkaymak Hotel, which was highly suggested by our hotel.
As we walk in, we come face to face with the wood-burning oven in which they are cooking the etliekmek (Figure 2). The etliekmek is formed by first putting a spherical ball of meat on a thin, circular dough. The dough, along with the meat, is then stretched out to the length of approximately a meter and placed into the oven.
When we sat down and ordered, we told our waiter that we wanted one etliekmek just to try, and he seemed to understand (even though he didn’t speak much English). He proceeded to bring us three platters of daikon, cilantro and lemons (Figure 3), and when the etliekmek came, there were six!!! We only wanted a snack at the time so we tried to explain to him using hand signals, but all he did was come back with parmesan…
He even got a translator on the phone, but the translator seemed to only be able to take our order, which was DEFINITELY not what we wanted to do. As that conversation was going on, our waiter seemed to understand that he should take back 5 of the etliekmek. He took back the entire platter and seemed to be gone for a bit. When he got back, he had the etlikemek cut up into square pieces and placed on plates (Figure 4). But at least now, we only shared a total of two etliekmek, not six.
Despite the language barrier (which was also our fault that we didn’t learn some important Turkish words for ordering food), the etliekmek was even better than an Italian pizza, especially with the peppers and addition of daikon, cilantro and a spritz of lemon. The best part was that the meat on top was lamb! I think I may have easily polished the entire etliekmek myself after taking that first bite.
Needless to say, we tipped generously for the waiter's troubles as we left the restaurant.
- At restaurants where you can’t just point and order, learn a couple of essential Turkish words before going. Also, make sure you can pronounce the words properly because the number one is “beer” in Turkish but is pronounced a bit differently than how we say beer.
- Put the vegetable sides, such as the daikon, on top of the etliekmek and eat it together for some flavor fireworks.
- Etliekmek is pretty cheap. At the restaurant we went to, it was only 8 Turkish lira for one etliekmek (aka just a bit more than $4).
- Make sure you get a taste of etliekmek when in Konya!!!
The etliekmek itself should be given a full rating, but that rating was brought down due to that language barrier experience…