Cue the dreamy face that comes over most Turkish people (usually males) as they list the ingredients of meals cooked by their mum!
Because, when it comes to the Turkish kitchen and a traditional Turkish dish, all mums know best.
He started off telling us about one of the best known dishes of Turkish cuisine; his mum’s menemen recipe.
All made with simple ingredients. Simple ingredients of the highest quality.
What Is Menemen?
“It’s so simple,” he said.
“But so delicious. It’s eggs with peppers and tomatoes and onions. And it’s all mixed up.”
A not-very-attractive image conjured itself up in my mind.
Was menemen going to resemble some sort of sloppy scrambled eggs with tomatoes?
When we caught our first sight of menemen on that same holiday, those thoughts were confirmed!
These Turkish scrambled eggs were not looking too appealing at all…
But then we tasted it! And wow!
The eggs and tomatoes with the peppers and onions; a perfect combination.
And the flavours were so good that this traditional Turkish breakfast recipe was now, on sight, a complete tempter.
These days, hardly a week goes by where we don’t make menemen! And not just for breakfast, either.
No. Menemen can be eaten at any time of day!
How To Make Menemen
On some English menus, menemen is sometimes translated as ‘Turkish omelette.’
As with many other translations of famous Turkish dishes (gözleme springs to mind), this is really not a favourite description of ours.
But if you do see those words on a menu and you decide to order it, you’re gonna get something resembling our photo above.
Authentic, delicious menemen is more of a Turkish scrambled eggs recipe than it is an omelette.
With Or Without Onion?
Anyway, how to make menemen?
Well, it’s very easy.
And it seems, from a recent poll on Twitter, that you can either do your menemen recipe with onions or without onions.
We’ve always been a with onions kinda couple but you can decide for yourself.
Famous Turkish food critic, Vedat Milor, asked the question on his Twitter account and it seems people on social media have strong views on this subject.
A massive half a million people felt compelled to cast their vote. And the result?
51% prefer their menemen recipe to contain onions. 49% without.
Vedat Milor is in the 51% category. As are we.
So, let’s make menemen…with onions. Sweet onion is best.
We’re looking for a perfect harmony of flavours, here. No big standouts. A strong onion will be overpowering.
And we don’t want these onions to be too crunchy or burned.
So, first of all, we sweat them in a frying pan. Then saute on a medium low heat until they start to soften and go translucent.
Our Turkish egg pan has a lid so we cover them for a few minutes to let the steam do its work and soften them.
Then we add green pepper and stir that in with a wooden spoon.
We use sivri biber (the long green peppers you see on the local markets in Turkey) but deseeded green bell peppers will do the trick if you can’t get sivri biber.
Just make sure you take the time to chop them up into small pieces.
After our onions and peppers have cooked for a few minutes, we add large, chopped, fresh tomatoes.
If you know Turkish summer tomatoes, you’ll know they’re pretty meaty and sizeable.
2-3 medium-sized tomatoes will be necessary, depending on how tomato-ish you want your finished dish to be.
Variations Of Menemen
Some people like a prominent tomato mixture, whilst others like the eggs to do the talking.
So you do get people who know exactly which local restaurants they prefer to go to for their menemen, depending on the texture.
But back to our recipe.
And then we add our spices and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Again, spices are a matter of personal taste. We use sweet paprika, kekik (dried thyme), cumin. And, of course, hot red pepper flakes (pul biber).
A spicy menemen is essential, for us.
If you’re a cheese lover, some menemen recipes also contain some crumbled beyaz peynir (Turkish white cheese or feta cheese) or grated kaşar (similar to Cheddar cheese).
You can add this at the same time as your eggs so that it melts a little as you stir the mixture. This isn’t to our taste. We prefer our menemen without cheese.
And, once our tomatoes have softened and we have a tomato sauce in the pan, it’s time for the beaten eggs. Village eggs, for us.
Some people choose to cover the pan again at this point and let the eggs poach (similar to when you make spinach and eggs) but we go with the more common scrambled route.
For a contrast in colour and a bit of crisp texture, we also garnish with fresh herbs. Depending on the season, we use basil or chopped fresh parsley.
Unlike another favourite Turkish eggs dish of ours, sucuklu yumurta, there’s no need to feel too guilty when you’re eating menemen. It’s right up there in the list of healthy meals.
You can always increase the comfort food levels, though, and make a more hearty breakfast or lunch. Serve your menemen with some fresh crusty bread from your local bakery.
Difficult to resist when all those juices are waiting to be mopped up!
Tear a piece of bread and dip it straight in there!
And wash it all down with a large glass of çay (Turkish tea). Lovely!
When it comes to favourite Turkish egg dishes, this traditional menemen recipe is right up there!
Our Menemen Recipe – Ingredients & Method
Menemen Recipe – Turkish Scrambled Eggs With Tomatoes
- 4 large free range eggs
- 1 large tomato or 3-4 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 medium-sized onion peeled & finely shopped
- 2 green sivri biber or 1 small green bell pepper deseeded & finely chopped
- 1 handful parsley freshly chopped
- 2 teaspoons hot chilli flakes optional
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon thyme or oregano
- salt & pepper to season
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil for frying
- Add a small glug of sunflower oil to a frying pan and heat gently.
- First of all, add your onions and sauté for a few minutes until they become translucent.
- Now add your green pepper and stir for a few minutes until it starts to soften.
- Now stir in your chopped tomato and add your herbs and spices and salt and pepper.
- Simmer over a low heat until your tomato cooks down to form a thick tomato sauce.
- Crack your eggs into the pan and stir them until they are scrambled into the mixture.
- Remove from the heat and garnish with your parsley.
- Serve alone or as part of a larger breakfast.
- As with all of our recipes, calories are approximate and will differ depending on your ingredients.
- Turkish summer tomatoes are very large, hence we use only one. They are equivalent to 3-4 medium-sized vine tomatoes.
- If you want a richer flavour, you can add some crumbled feta cheese to your menemen recipe at the same time as your eggs.
And that’s how we make our traditional Turkish menemen. One pan eggs that are guaranteed to satisfy – especially as a weekend brunch treat.
For this recipe and other Turkish recipes to cook at home, visit our ever growing Turkish recipe collection.