Turkish scrambled eggs (Menemen)
Every morning in Istanbul my hotel would serve our family these eggs and I fell in love with them. Simple but bursting with flavours from the region, these eggs are very overlooked. Traditionally this dish is considered to be poor man's food, enjoyed by students and workers looking for a meal to fill them up. But the streets are littered with carts and stalls that make just this dish in the morning, taking this dish to an art form.
The magic in the dish is from the biber salcasi from Doyen Foods. This fiery sauce of red bell and chilli peppers brightens up the eggs and adds a pop of flavour making them delicious. Most variations of Menemen use only tomatoes and green chillies, but I like this version because of the addition of the salcasi. The soft eggs, please do not overcook them to rubber, are brightly spiced, fiery and perfect with bread, simit or pita. I also like to enjoy these eggs stuffed into a pita with some feta cheese and lettuce. Filling and nutritious, these eggs with keeping you satisfied. Although this is mostly a breakfast dish, you will also find it as a side occasionally, especially during a feast.
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2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 green chilli or banana pepper, thinly sliced into circles
1 teaspoon biber salcasi (see recipe below)
1 tomato, finely diced
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Parsley, minced for garnish
Aleppo pepper flakes, for garnish
Heat the oil in a pot on low heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté till the onions are soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the green chillies and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the biber salcasi and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and turn up the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes till the tomatoes are broken down and you have a sauce.
Turn down the heat to low again. Crack the eggs on top, mix in immediately, and whisk continually so you do not get large curdle. Continue to cook whisking for about 4-5 minutes until the eggs form up and just about get solid. Take off the heat when the eggs are soft but completely cooked. They are cooked too much if the water starts leaking from the dish, so you have to develop a feel for when they are done.
Ladle out and garnish with parsley and Aleppo pepper flakes. Eat immediately, scrambled eggs are never good once they cool down and dry out.
For the biber salcasi: You can buy the biber salcasi in India from Doyen foods, they make a good version of the sauce. However, if you want to make the sauce, here is the recipe. 3 lb red bell peppers, deseeded and cut into strips 1 lb dried red chillies, stemmed and soaked and water overnight 8 cups water Salt, to taste Drain and cut the dried chilli peppers into thin slices. Add to a large pot with the red bell peppers and water. Simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours. Cool. Purée in a blender to a coarse paste using some of the cooking liquids. The consistency should be close to that of ketchup. Store in the fridge for 1 week or freeze for longer.