Sunday, 11 August 2013

Turkish Menemen brunch

A different sort of egg fry up.
Mr Duncan made this one pan egg dish known ans Menemen or Shakshuka for our brunch yesterday morning. 

Given Mr Duncan's ban on eating bread and dairy, his usual brunch specialties of poached eggs on toast or cheese omelette are no longer on the menu.  Poached eggs on their own do not seem appetising, and while we will often have omelette with mushrooms or tomatoes, we dont have any of either this week.

I spent some time living in Istanbul teaching English in the six months between winning the green card lottery and actually moving to the United States.  I knew the holiday entitlement in the US was only about 2 weeks a year and I figured I may never have the opportunity to live and work somewhere so exotic again.  I like my adventures.  In any case, I fell in love with Turkish food while I was there.  The dishes are generally super simple to make - and super tasty.  Menemen - made either with this method where you poach the eggs in the tomato mixture or with the scrambled eggs method - makes a great eggy brunch with no bread or dairy required.  This is not to say you couldnt eat it with fresh crusty bread to soak up the juices, or topped with thick natural yoghurt.

The recipe Mr Duncan followed is one from a feature on the Modern Pantry restaurant I ripped out of the Times Magazine and tucked in my recipe notebook some years ago.  I've given the instructions per the original recipe below.  We didnt have any red onion, peppers, fennel seeds or mustard seeds so substituted finely chopped white onion and fresh fennel instead and used a bit of fresh green chilli from Mr Duncan's plants.

Fertility Focus
Eggs are considered to strongly boost fertility in Chinese medicine.
Cumin is good for uterine health according to Ayurvedic medicine.

  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 knob ginger, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 6 large vine ripened tomatoes, diced, or 375g tin tomatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  • fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet.  (Mr Duncan used our new Le Crueset grill pan, which I dont recommend as the ridges make it tricky to dish the food when it is ready).
Add the fennel, cumin and mustard seeds and the chilli flakes.  Saute for a couple of minutes until the spices are aromatic, then add the ginger, onion and garlic.  Continue to saute until softened then add the red pepper and tomato.  Cover with a lid and gently cook for 10 minutes.  The sauce should be aromatic and beginning to thicken.

Check for seasoning, then crack the eggs on top and leave the sauce to simmer away gently until the eggs are cooked to your liking. (I suggest you make little 'holes' in the thick sauce to crack the eggs into and cover with a lid otherwise the bottom of the egg gets overcooked while the top is runny).

Remove from heat, sprinkle with olive oil and plenty of freshly chopped parsely and serve in the pan with tahini yoghurt alongside.


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