Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Sluttishly Savoury: Menemen

I find the breakfast traditions of other countries pretty fascinating. One of the best bits of travelling is the grub, and breakfast is a time when foodie foibles and fondnesses come to the fore. I'm not one for running around, screaming about the lack of proper bacon in Spain, oh no. I'm right there chowing down on churros with the locals.

I've never been to Turkey, so I had to bring their breakfast of choice, menemen, to me. (Fun fact: the Turkish word for breakfast, kahvaltı, means 'before coffee'.) In a nutshell, menemen is spicy, garlicky tomatoes, peppers, and onions, topped with eggs. I think it's more common for the eggs to be completely scrambled, but I left mine on top to cook, just stirring the whites a little so they jumble with the tomato mixture below, and leaving the lovely, runny yolk intact. Feel free to scramble away to your heart's content, though! 

I served my menemen with Greek yoghurt mixed up with lots of garlic, and enjoyed it piled high on some... toasted white bread. Yeah. Not so up for tradition now, am I? Try it with flatbread instead for a proper Turkish taste (although it's mighty fine on toast). 

Menemen (serves 4)
You will need:

For the menemen
  • A glug of olive oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 peppers, any colour, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 100g baby plum tomatoes, whole
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A generous squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the garlic yoghurt
  • 8 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • Salt and pepper
Make it! 
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and fry the onion, peppers, whole tomatoes, chilli, garlic, ginger and cumin until everything is softish. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and the lemon juice, and season to taste. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes until it's thickened, stirring occasionally.
  2. Make four hollows in the mixture, one for each egg. Be sure to space them evenly so that you spread the yolky love around the pan. Crack the eggs into the hollows, give the white bits a wee poke with your spoon so they scramble a bit, and leave to cook for around 5 minutes - you know what an egg looks like when it's done, so when it looks like that, stop cooking! Crumble some feta over the top, scatter a bit of parsley about the place, and then quickly make your accompaniment by mixing the yoghurt with the garlic and seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  3. Serve your menemen straight from the pan, with the yoghurt in a separate bowl. I won't tell anyone about the stack of white toast on the side, I promise.   

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