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We’re continuing our trip around Turkey as part of the series on exploring food around the globe – Food Trotter! This time with Turkish Breakfast!
Turkey’s culinary culture has been so fascinating country to explore because of the many influences throughout its history. My experience so far with Turkish cuisine is that it is not spicy, but very flavorful! It allows the star of the dish shine, whether it is the meat or vegetable. The rest of the ingredients (often tomato, onions, parsley, and spices) complement the main star of the dish! You can read all about Turkish ingredients here!
Food culture in Turkey is very much in line with the concept of sitting down and enjoying one’s meals. Socializing and meal times are intertwined in each other.
A typical Turkish Breakfast: Kahvalti – before coffee
In Turkey breakfast is called “Kahvalti”. The word Kahvalti literally means “before coffee”! Despite the fact that Turkish coffee is famous all around the world, it’s interesting that it is lots of black tea that makes an appearance at the breakfast table!
In Turkish cuisine, breakfast is an important meal! Breakfast is a meal eaten together as a family. Breakfast doesn’t consist of cereal, or pancakes. But rather, this meal is a spread. A variety of items are placed on the table and you pick and choose what you eat.
Turkey is a diverse country; there are of course regional differences, but a typical breakfast in Turkey is composed of a spread of many dishes including:
- Eggs: Boiled eggs or menemen (Turkish scrambled eggs)
- Bread: Simit (bagels), pide (fluffy bread) or Börek (pastries made from flaky phyllo dough and layered with ground meat or cheese)
- Veggies: Olives, Tomatoes, Cucumbers
- Meat: Sucuk, spicy Turkish sausageSpreads: Jams, Honey, Butter, Kaymak, or clotted cream, a spreadable, fatty treat also popular around the Balkans
- Cheese: a salty cheese, like a Turkish cheese or Greek feta
- Tea: Black Turkish Tea
Turkish breakfasts sound like quite a treat! I’d wake up early for a spread like this!
In Istanbul, in the district, Beşiktaş, there’s even a street called Breakfast Street, which had made breakfast culture come alive again. The street is lined with café’s serving their own specialties of classic Turkish breakfast spreads of Turkish including olives, jams, pastries, and menemen.
What I find fascinating about breakfast and brunch in different cultures, is that so many different cuisines from around the world incorporate eggs at breakfast. Fried, scrambled, boiled or poached, eggs are an essential part of so many types of breakfasts around the world!
Inspired by Turkish Breakfast
I love breakfast foods, but hate mornings! I usually can’t stomach foods before noon, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying breakfast foods. Breakfast for dinner?! I’m there!
The weekends though are an exception. Typically on weekends, here at home, our breakfast spreads are much more elaborate, whether it is breakfast at home or enjoying brunch in the city! That’s why I’ve shared multiple pancake recipes in the past, like these Apple Pie Pancakes or the Caramel Walnut Pancakes!
Weekend breakfasts are my favorite! More than the food, there’s something comforting about breakfast on Saturday or Sunday. It’s an experience, a sacred ritual; you can take your time, and thoroughly appreciate the food you’re eating!
In my attempt to create a Turkish breakfast for two – I opted for a modified version of a menemen and served it with cucumbers, olives, and a garlic-yogurt sauce. The spread was not as elaborate as the ones I’ve been learning about! I’ll have to make a trip to Turkey to experience this myself!
Menemen is a popular weekend breakfast dish in Turkey. It features eggs (often scrambled) cooked in tomatoes and onions. Menemen reminds me of Shakshuka, a popular Middle Eastern/North African dish, which has is an egg-based dish with a tomato sauce stew, often with chickpeas or other vegetables. There a few versions of menemen. All are tomato based and have eggs. Typically, the dish has scrambled eggs, but sometimes they’re poached in the tomato sauce instead. I prefer my eggs poached, so I created a modified version of the dish, similar to this Baked Eggs and Salsa recipe on the blog.
The Menemen recipe starts with sauteed onions and peppers for flavor. Tomatoes are then added to create the sauce. Eggs are then added and cooked directly in the sauce, removed from the heat, right before they’re completely cooked. The dish is then served directly in the pan or skillet it was cooked in! I used a pan similar to this Lodge 8-inch Cast Iron Pan, like this one from Amazon.
I served the Menemen with cucumbers, olives, bread, and a garlicky-yogurt sauce to complete the meal! It was a stunner, and will be making a return to our breakfast table soon for sure!
Although this is a typical breakfast dish, I’d argue this dish is also perfect for lunch or dinner! Make sure to serve it with some bread to mop up the tomato sauce.
Try this version and let me know what you think!
Turkish-inspired Poached Eggs in A Skillet (Menemen)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 in ripe tomatoes or equivalent crushed or diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 green pepper
- 1 onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder optional
- Parsley optional
Garlic Yogurt sauce
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 2-3 tbsp cloves of garlic or 1garlic paste
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac powder optional
- Chop onions and green peppers. Dice the tomatoes and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan (like a cast iron). Stir in the onions and pepper. Cook until they begin to soften.
- Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, mixing well. Add the salt, red chili, and pepper. Cook until the water in the tomatoes reduce, around 3-4 minutes on low-medium heat.
- Create four pockets in the stew with a spoon. Break the 4 eggs into these pockets.
- Cook on low until the egg whites are mostly set. The eggs will continue to cook when they're removed from the heat in the tomato sauce.
- Garnish with parsley, more pepper, and red chili
- Combine the crushed garlic or garlic sauce paste and lemon juice with the yogurt.
- Mix well.
- Serve the Menemen at the table on the pan with the yogurt sauce on the side, accompanied with cucumbers, olives, and bread.