Sunday, September 16, 2012

Turkish Menemen, or Eggs at Their Best

Menemen is eggs, poached in a fragrant tomato and red pepper simmer, heaped into bowls and served with garlicky yoghurt.  It’s a Turkish dish, and I love the combination of spices. I’ve made it without the red pepper, and it was just as delicious.

Make the garlic yoghurt first, and leave it at room temperature while you prepare the eggs. Serve with good sliced bread or flatbread. Or wait until next week, when I’ll post a recipe for Aleppo pepper cornbread, which is a perfect partner for menemen (and which uses the same Aleppo chili flakes you’ll need in this egg dish).

Menemen with Garlic Yogurt

Adapted from a recipe in Anna Hansen’s The Modern Pantry
Serves two hungry people, or four kinda peckish people

For the garlic yoghurt:

¼ cup olive oil
1 cup plain or greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
The juice of half a lemon

For the menemen:  

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
A thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sweet red pepper diced
6 large ripe tomatoes, diced
4 good quality eggs
Salt and pepper

To serve:

A swirl of good quality olive oil
A good handful of chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley

            First, make your yoghurt. Combine the olive oil, yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl, mix well. Salt to taste. Leave at room temperature while you prepare the menemen.

            In a heavy cast iron pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the fennel, cumin, mustard seeds and Aleppo chili flakes.  Sauté gently, letting it just fizzle a tad, for 4 minutes, or until the aroma fills the kitchen. Throw in the ginger, onion and garlic, and continue sautéing for a few minutes more, until the onions have softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes and red pepper. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10 minutes, until it thickens. 

            Taste for seasoning, and add a pinch of salt and some pepper to taste.  Now crack the eggs onto the mixture, and cook, undisturbed for about five minutes. You want them cooked, but the yolks still runny. To encourage the tops to steam, you might want to use a lid for part of the cooking pan.

            To serve, swirl olive oil, and sprinkle the parley. Gently scoop the eggs out into shallow bowls, along with the tomato mixture. Serve piping hot, with bread or toast. 

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