If there is an iconic food that many Istanbulites would swear by, it is menemen, scrambled eggs cooked with tomatoes and green peppers and traditionally served in a tin-lined copper pan with two handles (sahan). The eggs are a bit undercooked: there is a definite joy in breaking a large piece off the white bread, dipping it onto the moist eggs and munch this deliciousness enriched by the tomatoes and crunchy peppers.
Menemen makes a great addition to the Turkish breakfast prepared by the loving mothers if at home. Or offered for brunch in addition to open buffets – I can’t remember an occasion when waiters would not try to seduce me with the notion of sucuklu menemen (made with sucuk, dry spicy sausage). Mememen is also a no-fuss meal for any time of the day which you can get at the street eateries. Yet the best part about menemen is that you can get a portion as an after-party meal: it may not be as effective in combating the hangover as the infamous tripe soup but definitely is as comforting. I feel so moved that I nearly start weeping when I see my Turkish friends religiously munching menemen on either occasion: this is definitely the ultimate comfort food here in Istanbul.
Yet Istanbulites are not alone in their devotion to menemen and this dish has relatives around the world. One of the closest comes from Tunisia and called shakshuka only that the latter uses more exquisite spices such as cumin, turmeric and chillies. In Mexico they do huevos rancheros (rancher’s eggs) where fried eggs served with tomato and chili sauce over a corn tortilla.
As keen on mixing-n-matching at my kitchen as I am I have come up with this version of spicy memenen baked in a tortilla. Turkey, Tunisia and Mexico are coming together for a serious breakfast.
Baked Eggs with Tomatoes and Zucchini in Tortillas
(Turkish Menemen Recipe Rethought)
Rich egg dish with fresh tomato sauce and crunchy zucchini baked in a tortilla makes an excellent brunch
Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 15 Min
- 3 tomatoes
- 250 gram zucchini cut into thin stripes, 3 sm long
- 1 large red onion chopped
- 4 eggs
- pinch ground cumin
- pinch red pepper flakes
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- pinch salt
- 4 tortillas
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100 gram goat cheese for garnish
- rocket salad for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 170C (340F).
- Halve the tomato and grate each half discarding the peel.
- On the medium heat grease the hot frying pen with 2 tbsp vegetable oil and saute the onion until translucent (about 5 minutes). Then toss in zucchini and spices and saute for 3-5 minutes longer so they start getting golden. After that add grated tomatoes and saute until at least half of the liquid evaporates.
- Meanwhile take small round fireproof dishes (clay souffle pots would be ideal), grease them with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and fit one tortilla in each. Handling a tortilla without breaking it will be easy of you hold the opposite sides (12 and 6 o’clock) of the tortilla and make a little fold on each side; do the same holding the tortilla at 3 and 9 o’clock. That way tortilla will fit nicely into a baking bowl with its sides sticking out like folds of a skirt. Set aside.
- Once the vegetables are cooked add eggs and quickly mix. Divide the mixture between the four tortillas and place the dishes in the oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes at 170C (340F). Sprinkle crumbled goat cheese and garnish with rocket salad on the side before serving.