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Turkey to Germany, Shopping/Eating in Izmir

We traveled from Incirlik AB (near Adana) to Izmir Turkey.  Customs requires a ‘checkout’ of the country and it took several days.  So we shopped, ate and discovered the ‘sister city’ of Izmir while we out processed from Turkey.  Being the 80s Frankie Goes To Hollywood was very popular and I got the most awesome tank top that was pink with a huge lettering in red RELAX on it.  I ended up wearing it to Peter’s Pop Festival in 1986 (Germany)…the guys pointed and gave us the thumbs up – I thought – “I am soo happy I bought this shirt!”

Shopping is fantastic in Turkey – anywhere you go there are outstanding deals on a wide variety of interesting things…brass and copper knick knacks, rugs, meerschaum pipes, food, clothing, GOLD, silver; you name it!  The biggest hurdle I had returning to the U.S. was NOT haggling with people in the stores about prices… LOL in Turkey, as with most Middle Eastern countries, is expected!!!

We truly enjoyed our time in Turkey.  Fortunately we were highly encouraged by my mother to travel and explore our host country during our assignment.  I will go into details about other trips in future posts…the history, culture and architecture you can experience is truly amazing!

The unique thing about Izmir in 1985 was the fact that it was closer to Europe and therefore was much more westernized than Adana (near Syria) in the eastern part of the country.  We saw several things that were “Americanized” – Pizza HAT – instead of Pizza Hut – no doubt to influence the patronage of Americans stationed in Izmir…but make no mistake they didn’t have anything like what you would find at a Pizza Hut… LOL still in all it was good food with a Turkish twist – their ‘pizza’ is a flat pita with a form of tomato paste/base with lamb , it is called lahmacan (Llama-Joon)

I included the recipe below from – let me know if you decide to make it how you like it… if you make it with lamb I highly recommend squirting some fresh lemon juice on it – just before you eat it – cuts the ‘game’ flavor out of the lamb and makes it SUPER tasty!  There are other ‘shorter’ recipes out there but we have tried this one and it is pretty good – worth the prep time for sure!

Lahmacun Turkish Pizza

Lahmacun Turkish Pizza

  • Prep 2 h

  • Cook 20 m

  • Ready In 1day –  3 h 20m

Recipe By:lysis
“This Turkish-style pizza is a Turkish flat bread layered with a fresh sauce composed of tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and minced lamb cooked with a flavorful selection of Mediterranean spices. It is normally garnished with fresh salad and a creamy garlic sauce and or a tangy zesty hot red pepper sauce. It is a really light meal, but filling and flavorful. I find it worth the time to make if I can’t get it from my favorite Turkish bakery in my old neighborhood in Amsterdam. For the best flavor, make the topping the night before you make the pizza.”


  • For the Lamb Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound lean ground lamb
  • 6 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • For the Dough:
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • For the Garlic Sauce:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Garnish:
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine the garlic, onion, basil, parsley, mint, paprika, cumin, coriander, diced bell peppers, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped. Add the halved tomatoes and process until the mixture is a thick puree.
  2. Place the lamb in the preheated skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the puree and the tomato paste and mix well. Cook and stir until the lamb is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1 cup warm water. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well. Add the vegetable oil and 1/2 cup water to the yeast mixture and pour it over the flour. Use your hands to mix the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover with a wet towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Remove the lamb sauce from the refrigerator and allow it to come up to room temperature. Prepare the garlic sauce: combine the yogurt, parsley, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and set aside.
  5. Punch the dough down, transfer it to a floured work surface, and cut the dough into 10 portions. Shape each portion into a round. Flatten each round with your hand; use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a 10-inch circle. The dough should be thin, like a crepe. Place the rounds on parchment paper.
  6. Preheat an oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
  7. Stir the lamb sauce and then spoon it onto a dough round. Spread it thinly to the edges and press down lightly so it sticks to the dough. Bake pizzas on parchment paper-lined baking sheets on the lowest oven rack until the edges are a light tan color, 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Place on a wire rack to cool. The pizzas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three days or in the freezer for three months. To reheat, place the pizzas in a 350 degree F oven (175 degrees C) for 8 minutes.
  9. To assemble the lahmacun, drizzle with garlic sauce, top with shredded cabbage, and roll up to eat. See the Cook’s Notes for other garnish ideas.