Breakfast, otherwise known as kahvalti in Turkish, is a big deal in Türkiye. Kahvalti translates to “before coffee” and is all about gathering and sharing dishes with one another.
Family homes and Turkish restaurants prepare many little dishes to fill the dining table, allowing you to sample them at your leisure while drinking Turkish brewed black tea or freshly squeezed orange juice. An essential part of the kahvalti spread is an egg-based dish like menemen.
What Is Menemen?
Menemen is a traditional breakfast dish originating from the Izmir Province in Türkiye. The silky, smoky scrambled eggs are made by cooking eggs with fresh grated tomatoes, diced green peppers, and onion. The flavor profile is further lifted with the addition of garlic, sweet red pepper paste, ground pepper, and oregano.
When to Serve Menemen
While traditionally served at breakfast, menemen is a versatile dish that can also be eaten for lunch or dinner.
There has been much debate about whether onions should be included in menemen, with some firmly taking the stance that onions should only be included in the main dish served later in the day and not in the breakfast version.
The version I prefer includes onions and I eat it any time of day! Ultimately, you are free to tweak the recipe to suit your own tastes and leave the onions out if you like.
This recipe includes a few Turkish ingredients which can be substituted if they are difficult to find:
- Sivri biber (Turkish green peppers): These long, green, pointy peppers are the most common capsicum pepper served in Turkish cuisine. You may have seen them charred and served alongside a kebab. If you cannot find these peppers, you can substitute 1 large green bell pepper.
- Pul biber (Aleppo pepper): This dried, coarsely ground dark red pepper is grown in Syria and Turkey. It is used as a condiment and has a mildly smoky flavor with moderate heat. If you are unable to find it, you can substitute ancho chili or sweet paprika in the same quantity.
- Tatli biber salçasi: Look for tatlı biber salçası, a sweet pepper paste. The spicier version is aci biber salçası, so be aware when purchasing that there are 2 versions available. If unavailable, you can substitute with tomato paste in the same quantity.
How to Serve Menemen
If you have experienced kahvalti in Türkiye or dined in a Turkish restaurant, you will no doubt be familiar with the array of dishes that are served alongside menemen.
Common accompaniments include baskets full of delicious bread like simit (a sesame-covered ring of bread often referred to as a “Turkish bagel”), plates piled with a variety of cold cuts and cheeses, fried Turkish sausage (sucuk), bowls of olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers, flaky pastry stuffed with cheese (sigara böreği), and decadent jams and clotted cream.
While it is lovely to recreate a full kahvalti spread once in a while, serving menemen directly from the pan with toasted sourdough and lashings of butter really does hit the spot and can be made in a fraction of the time!
Menemen can also be varied to include other items such as cheese, sucuk, or other sautéed vegetables, such as mushrooms. Crumble feta on top before serving to add another dimension to your menemen.
Easy Egg Dishes for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner
Menemen (Turkish Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes)
For the menemen
2 beefsteak tomatoes
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
6 sivri biber (Turkish green peppers), seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon tatli biber salçasi (Turkish sweet pepper paste)
1 teaspoon pul biber (ground Aleppo pepper)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon pul biber
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, leaves coarsely chopped
Prepare the tomatoes and eggs:
Stem the tomatoes. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate the tomatoes into a medium bowl. Discard any excess peel.
Crack the eggs into a separate medium bowl and beat with a whisk.
Cook the onion, garlic, and peppers:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic followed by the green peppers (sivri biber) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the tatli biber salçasi, tomatoes, and spices:
Add tatli biber salçasi and stir it into the vegetable mixture until evenly distributed. Add the grated tomatoes, pul biber, oregano, and black pepper and simmer until most of the juices from the grated tomatoes have been cooked off and the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Cook the eggs:
Pour the beaten eggs into the pan and stir to distribute evenly into the vegetable mixture. Stir gently until the eggs start to firm up, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
As the menemen mixture has a lot of tomatoes and vegetables, the consistency will be wetter than plain scrambled eggs.
Garnish and serve:
Mix 1 teaspoon pul biber with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Garnish the menemen with drizzles of the flavored oil and chopped parsley leaves scattered on top. Serve immediately.
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and eaten within 2 days. Menemen can be reheated in the microwave or gently heated in a skillet on low heat.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 16g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||17%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 29mg||147%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|