Menemen – Turkish scrambled eggs with tomatoes

Nobody does scrambled eggs like the Turks.
Menemen in traditional Turkish copper pan
Menemen in traditional Turkish copper pan

For all its simplicity, menemen is nothing short of a revelation. Eggs, scrambled in a simple sauce of tomatoes, peppers and onions (though the latter is contested). Turkish scrambled eggs are the perfect way to start the day!

To onion or not to onion. When it comes to menemen, that is the question.

Vefat Milor, arguably Turkey’s most famous restaurant and food critic, posed this question on Twitter a few years ago. I don’t know if he anticipated the response. Perhaps he did, and that’s the reason he posted it.

The debate raged for days, and hundreds of thousands of Turks weighed in with their opinion in the poll. In the end, the result was closer to 50/50 than Britain’s infamous Brexit vote.

What is menemen?

Menemen is the most famous and treasured home breakfast dish in Turkey.

I sometimes refer to it as scrambled eggs with vegetables, but given the ratios often employed by Turkish cooks, a mashed-up shakshuka is probably a better description.

Menemen in pan on tray with vegetables, olives & bread
Photo: Bahar Kitapci from my second book Aubergine & tahini (available in Norwegian).

Don’t suggest this explanation to any Turks, though. They have their own version of shakshuka, which is rather different from the dish of Tunisian origin that has taken much of the Western world by storm. Notably, it includes no eggs.

Eggs scrambled in a sauce of tomato, green peppers and, for 50% of the population, onions. Incredible in summar, when the tomatoes are sweet and juicy. But it’s delicious in winter, too. I’ve made it during Norwegian winter months, with canned tomatoes, and that’s delicious too. Not as fresh and summery, perhaps, but still very more-ish.

Patience is a virtue

When it comes to cooking menemen, patience is a virtue. The key to getting the best flavour is to cook the vegetables very gently, in generous amounts of good quality olive oil.

You don’t want any browned or burnt bits, so don’t leave the stove for anything more than a second.

Menemen (turkish scrambled eggs) in traditional Turkish copper pan

You also don’t want any resistance from the onions or peppers, so don’t give in when the hunger pain strikes and you’re tempted to throw in the eggs, even though the onion still has a bite to it. The onions and peppers should be completely soft and sweet in flavour.

In Turkey, there’s a wide variety of green peppers that are as suitable to eating raw as they are delicious in cooked dishes such as this. I prefer a variety usually just sold as village peppers (köy biberi). They look like small, but longer, bell peppers with super thin walls, reminiscent of the Spanish padron peppers. Whilst a variety with thin walls (as all Turkish varieties have) is the best option for menemen, green bell pepper also works, if that’s what you have.

In my early days of Turkish cooking, having not yet quite understood the appeal of green peppers, I substituted red romano peppers. I’ve long since abandoned this practice, though they remain in the photo accompanying this recipe. Being less sweet when cooked, green peppers work better alongside the onion and tomatoes. This is especially true if your tomatoes are of the sweet, vine-ripened height-of-summer kind. I’d consider them if using canned tomatoes, though.

How to serve menemen

Menemen is best enjoyed as I saw it on my trip to the spice market last month. I popped in early (you know, corona and all, best to arrive before the crowds), and ended up interrupting the team breakfast at the beginning of the working day.

A huge pan of menemen placed on a provisional table. Around, plenty of chairs, a friendly atmosphere and lots of bread to mop up this deliciousness.

For a bigger breakfast, supplement traditional Turkish breakfast items as you like: Olives, cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumber, perhaps some honey. And plenty of black tea (or filter coffee, if you’re an inconvertible Scandi, like me).

The recipe serves 2, more if part of a bigger breakfast.

Menemen in traditional Turkish copper pan

Menemen – Turkish scrambled eggs with tomatoes

Turks' favourite way to prepare eggs – and mine too!
4.8 (31 ratings).
25 minutes
2 servings
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  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, I use a mild extra virgin
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 3–4 Turkish long green peppers (sivri biber), or ½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomato, halved
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, optional
  • 4 eggs
  • pul biber (Aleppo pepper), to serve (optional)
  • salt and pepper

How I make it

  • Heat a large frying pan over medium/low heat. Fry the onion and peppers, stirring regularly, in the olive oil until completely soft, but not coloured, 10–15 minutes.
  • Grate the tomatoes with the cut side against the coarse side of a box grater, until only the skin remains. Discard the skin.
  • When the onion and peppers are soft, add the grated tomato and chopped parsley. Simmer for 5–10 minutes, stirring regularly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Turn the heat down to low. Crack the eggs into the pan. Mix and cook until the eggs are as you like them, stirring constantly. Serve immediately, with an extra scattering of parsley, if you like.

Tips & notes

Personally, I like to mix only the egg whites with the tomato mixture (keeping the yolks whole) until the whites are cooked, then only break and mix in the yolks just before serving. This makes for an extra creamy and luxurious menemen.
Did you make this recipe?I’d love it if you’d be kind enough to leave a rating and a short comment.

Hey, there!

I’m Vidar, a Norwegian food writer based in Istanbul since 2015.

Join me in exploring the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East.

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him

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Photo: Bahar Kitapcı
Vidar shopping for vegetables at a Turkish greengrocer
Photo: Bahar Kitapcı

Hey, there!

I’m Vidar Bergum, a food writer based in Istanbul since 2015. I’ve published three books on the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East in my native Norway.

This website and my newsletter Meze are the homes of my writing and recipes in English.

Decorative tile in Turkish colours

2 Responses

  1. Was I Turkey four years ago, and loved everything about the country, including the food. Love your recipes, and will try these. Would love to go back one day.

  2. I’m from india would love to try some really spicy hot masala Turkish dishes , sorry NO beef please

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